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Cardiff Airport ( ) is an international airport for Walesmarker serving Cardiffmarker and the rest of Southmarker, Midmarker and West Walesmarker. Around 2 million passengers pass through the airport each year.

It is located in the village of Rhoosemarker, Vale of Glamorganmarker, west of the city centremarker of Cardiffmarker, the country's largest city and capital.

Cardiff Airport is owned by TBI plc. It is the only airport in Wales offering international scheduled flights; is served by scheduled, low-fare, business and charter carriers; and also supports corporate and general aviation. The majority of international flights are to Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands with the most popular being Alicantemarker, Amsterdammarker, Palma de Mallorcamarker. The most popular domestic service within the UK is to Edinburghmarker. There are also transatlantic charter flights to the USA and the Caribbean.

The airport is a hub for Bmibaby, which is the largest scheduled airline at the airport, with Aer Arann, Flybe, Thomson Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines all having a large presence with Cardiff as a focus city, although Flybe have expressed their intentions to become the largest airline at the airport by 2011 focussing on the business and short leisure break sectors.


The history of the airport extends back to the early 1940s, when the Air Ministry requisitioned land in the rural Vale of Glamorgan to set up a wartime satellite aerodrome and training base, named RAF Rhoosemarker, for Royal Air Force (RAF) Spitfire pilots. Construction work commenced in 1941, and the airfield officially began life on 7 April 1942 when it was taken over by No 53 Operational Training Unit. The commercial potential of the runway was recognised in the early 1950s with Aer Lingus starting a service to Dublinmarker in 1952. A new terminal building followed, along with flights to Francemarker, Belfastmarker and Corkmarker. An escalation in holiday charter business resulted in passenger throughput exceeding 100,000 in 1962.

The terminal entrance

In the 1970s, the airport, originally known as 'Rhoose Airport', was renamed 'Glamorgan, Rhoose Airport'. Around this time the supersonic airliner Concorde made a few flights into the airport on special occasions. These were limited by the length of the runway, meaning it could only land lightly loaded, and only take off without passengers and with a minimal fuel load. In the 1980s, its name was changed to 'Cardiff-Wales Airport'.

1986 saw a further extension of 750 feet (229 m) to the runway, costing in the region of £1 million, thus attracting more business to the airport in the form of new-generation jet aircraft. Development of transatlantic links were made with charter flights to Floridamarker, in addition to the previously-established links with Canadamarker. The runway extension, enabling the airport to handle 747 jumbo jets, was instrumental in attracting the British Airways (BA) Maintenance facility to the airport. The maintenance hangar is one of the largest in the world at 250 m x 175 m (820 ft x 574 ft), providing heavy airframe and engineering maintenance for the British Airways fleet and third party carriers.

In April 1995, due to planned Local Government re-organisation in Wales, the Airport Company was privatised, with shares being sold to property and development firm, TBI plc, now a subsidiary of Abertis airports which also owns Stockholm Skavstamarker, Belfast International Airportmarker and is concessionary to Orlando Sanford International Airportmarker and London Lutonmarker.

The airport is not only the main maintenance base for British Airways but also home to a variety of aerospace-oriented firms and colleges, and therefore a major contributor to the economic development of the region.

The airport was used by just under 2 million passengers in 2008, according to the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority, a reduction of 5.5% since 2007, making it the 19th busiest airport in the UK in terms of passenger numbers.

The airport was the main base for three local airlines; Cambrian Airways from 1935 to 1976, Airways International Cymru until the airline ceased schedules operations in 1988, and Air Wales until the airline ceased scheduled operations in March 2006.

Flybe has completed the installation of three new self service electronic check-in kiosks at the airport, offering passengers an additional choice at check-in. Flybe is the first airline to invest in this technology at the airport.

On 2 March 2009 the airport management revealed a name change for the airport along with initial development plans to improve the image of the facility. Following a brand review involving consultation with a number of key stakeholders the name Cardiff Airport and Maes Awyr Caerdydd will replace Cardiff International Airport.

Servisair announced on 2 April 2009 that they are to cease their operations at the airport as of 31 May blaming it on a decrease in operating schedules from charter airlines hence making it no longer financially viable. As a result all airlines currently operating from the airport will continue to do operate but instead use the only alternative handling agent, Aviance.


A new airline was mooted as a new home carrier at the airport. If it was launched, Flyforbeans said they would operate to Francemarker, Spainmarker, Germanymarker, Italymarker and Eastern Europe. The airline intended to have routes currently unavailable from the airport. Flyforbeans indicated that it intended to begin operations in mid-2008, with 3 Boeing 737 aircraft serving up to twelve destinations in total.

Following a survey conducted by the airport operator in 2008 as part of a campaign to attract additional business routes to the airport, popular destinations such as Aberdeenmarker, Frankfurtmarker, Düsseldorfmarker, Brusselsmarker and Scandinavia were identified as lacking a current link. The airport planned to conduct up to 25 meetings with airlines during May and June 2008 to support the case for more routes.

Airport management announced, on 29 March 2006 a £100 million development strategy which will see the current terminal being extended, as well as upgrades to the main body of the building.

It is anticipated that the investment will attract up to five million passengers by 2015 - an increase of 150% - according to the airport's published response to a UK Government White paper on the future of air transport throughout the United Kingdom.

Road access to the airport by way of the A48 trunk road was the subject of a public inquiry in 2006 but this is now superseded by needs of the forthcoming Defence Training Academy at MoD St Athanmarker, the bid for which included plans for a direct St Athanmarker and airport link to the M4 motorway.

Extensive works on the facility will begin from January 2010, costing around £3m, starting with the redevelopment of the front of the airport terminal and approach areas. The arrivals and departures halls will be linked together, providing upgraded duty-free and retail operations. This phase is expected to be completed in July 2010, well in advance of the Ryder Cup in October 2010.

Public Service Obligation Flights

On 21 February 2007 the airport announced that the airport would see the first Public Service Obligation (PSO) service to be operated in Wales. Invernessmarker based airline Highland Airways would fly several services each day between Anglesey Airportmarker and Cardiff. BAe Jetstream 31 aircraft were allocated to the route and it was hoped it would provide a quicker alternative to commuters travelling between North and South Wales, who otherwise rely on the A470 road or rail. The PSO service would be subsidised by the Welsh Assembly Government for three years; after this period, the route must be completely viable to continue. In May, the Anglesey service was claimed as a success, with over 1,000 seats being booked on the service within weeks of its announcement. There are options for up to 10 flights a day.


Number of Passengers Number of Movements
1997 1,155,186 18,171
1998 1,263,225 17,537
1999 1,330,277 17,656
2000 1,519,920 20,196
2001 1,543,782 21,764
2002 1,425,436 18,736
2003 1,919,231 21,231
2004 1,887,621 21,993
2005 1,779,208 20,553
2006 2,024,428 21,872
2007 2,111,148 23,117
2008 1,994,892 23,481
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority

20 Busiest Current Routes out of Cardiff Airport (2008)
Rank Airport Passengers handled 2007-2008 Change Airlines that serve(d)
1 - Amsterdam Airport Schipholmarker 193,682 14% Bmibaby, KLM
2 - Palma de Mallorca Airportmarker 169,367 1% Bmibaby, Thomas Cook, Thomson Airways
3 - Edinburgh Airportmarker 162,556 2% Bmibaby, Flybe
4 - Alicante Airportmarker 150,891 6% Bmibaby, Thomson Airways
5 - Malaga Airportmarker 139,274 7% Bmibaby, Thomson Airways
6 - Glasgow International Airportmarker 83,986 9% Bmibaby, Flybe
7 - Faro Airportmarker 74,910 2% Bmibaby, Thomson Airways
8 - Dublin Airportmarker 72,781 7% Aer Arann
9 - Tenerife South Airportmarker 64,895 8% Thomas Cook, Thomson Airways
10 - Dalaman Airportmarker 57,738 4% Onur Air, Thomas Cook, Thomson Airways
11 - Belfast International Airportmarker 52,283 44% Bmibaby
12 - Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airportmarker 48,460 28% Flybe
13 - Ibiza Airportmarker 46,576 6% Thomas Cook, Thomson Airways
14 - Las Palmas Airportmarker 42,316 35% Thomas Cook, Thomson Airways
15 - Paphos International Airportmarker 42,239 27% Thomas Cook, Thomson Airways
16 - Belfast City Airportmarker 40,673 227% Flybe
17 - Lanzarote Airportmarker 37,599 35% Thomas Cook, Thomson Airways
18 - Murcia Airportmarker 34,131 13% Bmibaby
19 - Newcastle Airportmarker 31,516 95% Eastern Airways, Flybe
20 - Milas-Bodrum Airportmarker 29,170 24% Onur Air, Thomas Cook, Thomson Airways
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority [108225]

Airlines and destinations

Scheduled services

Charter services

Transport links

Public transport

The nearest railway station to the airport is Rhoose Cardiff International Airport railway stationmarker on the Vale of Glamorgan Line, linked by a free shuttle bus to the departures terminal. Arriva Trains Wales provides regular services to Cardiff Central Stationmarker and Bridgendmarker, connecting it to the South Wales Main Line.

Cardiff Bus, EST Buses and Veolia Transport Cymru buses serve the airport and provide regular shuttle services to Cardiff central bus stationmarker and the Vale of Glamorganmarker.

By road

The airport is 10 miles (16 km) from the M4 and is signposted. From M4 junction 33 (Cardiff West), it is reached via the A4232 (towards Central Cardiff) exiting at Culverhouse Crossmarker, and then following the A4050 to Barrymarker and finally the A4226 towards Llantwit Majormarker. Another signposted route from the M4, from West Wales, is from Junction 37 near Pylemarker, which follows the A48 past Cowbridge then south along the A4226. However, there is a direct unmarked route from M4 Junction 34 (Miskin), following the country lane though Hensol, then at the crossroads (Sycamore Cross) with the A48, continuing along the A4226 to the airport.

Access improvement

With the growth in usage of the airport, traffic along the current access roads has become more acute leading to the Welsh Assembly Government to commission a study on improving road access to the airport. The consultants have suggested three possible schemes:
  1. Widening the A4232 to three lanes between M4 Junction 33 and Culverhouse. A bypass will be built connecting the A4232 directly to the A4050 to avoid the busy Culverhouse Cross roundabout.
  2. Constructing a new bypass road to link the A4232 directly to the A48 (Tumble Hill) before Culverhouse Cross. Airport traffic would then travel to Sycamore Cross then join the A4226 to the Airport. Improvements will be made to allow speeds to increase.
  3. Directing traffic from Junction 34 (Miskin) to Sycamore Cross then onto the A4226 to the airport. Improvements will be made to the route with new straighter sections added.
Airport management favour option 3, which would ease pressure from the A4232 and provide a more direct access route from Midmarker and South West Walesmarker, and the South Wales Valleysmarker. The National Assembly for Wales announced in June 2009 that the plans for a new access road would be dropped in favour of increased public transport frequency by bus and by rail instead.

Executive aviation

Signature Flight Support the Worlds largest FBO are present on the north side of the airfield serving executive aircraft that visit the airport.

Dragonfly Executive Air Charter operate three Beechcraft King Air 200 series aircraft. The company office is based on the south side of the airfield.

See also


  1. Getting to/from the Airport
  2. CAA Route Statistics 2006
  3. [1]
  4. You Would If You Could - Survey Results
  5. Passenger Terminal Today - Cardiff unveils expansion plans, 2 March 2009
  6. Number of Passengers including both domestic and international.
  7. Number of Movements represents total air transport takeoffs and landings during that year.
  8. [2]
  9. [3]
  10. BBC News - M4 and airport road plans dropped

External links

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