Here’s an insight from Wales into the wider political context of Bristol Airport’s application for expansion. The Stop Bristol Airport Expansion campaign isn’t generally in favour of the reduction of taxation on flights but the argument here supports the development of a regional network rather than allowing Bristol to become a hub airport, sucking passengers out of Wales in order to feed predatory growth at Bristol.
“The Welsh Government has accused the Westminster Government of deliberately holding back plans to boost the number of domestic routes from Cardiff Airport. This isn’t a surprise as the Westminster Government has shown every indication of wanting to hold back the development of Cardiff Airport and favour the nearby Bristol Airport over the past few years.
The size difference between the two airports is now starker than ever before. Bristol’s total of 8.6 million passengers (in 2018) is over five times bigger than the 1.58 million passenger intake at Cardiff.
The key element here is a reduction in Air Passenger Duty (APD) which would reduce the cost of flights. Scotland has had power over APD devolved since 2015. ADP reductions in Northern Ireland occurred as early as 2011. Now almost eight years later Wales is still requesting and Westminster is still refusing. Bristol Airport’s advantage has grown considerably in the meantime.
A second smaller proposal has also been made to devolve long-haul flight APD. This would have been a boost for Cardiff without a negative impact on Bristol to the same extent since Cardiff has a much longer runway. At 2 kilometres Bristol’s runway is one of the shortest in the UK. Cardiff can offer long-haul flights requiring longer runways that Bristol physically cannot. So Cardiff has the runway length to have flights Bristol is unable to, while Bristol is already over five times the size of Cardiff and is even nearing its airport capacity.
However, Bristol Airport has strongly lobbied against benefits to Cardiff and it has worked so effectively that Bristol Airport is now close to full capacity. Further expansion is planned despite the fact that many more people would be affected by noise pollution coming from an expanded Bristol airport compared to Cardiff.
This on-going refusal from Westminster to grant Cardiff ADP is outrageous. It is decisions such as these that suggest to the people of Wales that devolution, which is ultimately controlled by Westminster, is not enough for Wales, and may explain the recent rise in support for Welsh Independence.”