The addition of a third high-speed rail connection turning Cardiff Airport into Heathrow’s Atlantic Terminal is one of the lesser-known proposals for increasing UK airport capacity, but following a heart-felt campaign by Fly Cardiff which saw it top the #airpitch poll, it’s clear there is strong impetus for the alternative. Niki May Young gets Fly Cardiff’s reaction.
When the #airpitch poll was launched on 8 August, featuring ten of the 29 proposals put forward to the Airport Commission as release valves to the building pressure on the UK’s airport capacity issues, Cardiff Airport’s proposal wasn’t on the list. “Why no mention of the Cardiff proposal?” cried one commentator on the poll, “With HS2 (the second high speed railway connection) Cardiff would be highly ranked as a hub airport and offer a wide range of services for passengers in the South West. It's not all about London!” they said. So I challenged the author to come up with their own pitch, and promised to add it to the list.
24 hours later, Western Gateway’s proposal for increased capacity via Cardiff Airport was added after Fly Cardiff’s protestation. Coming from behind, as there had already been more than 30 votes on the poll, Cardiff soon surpassed the leader in the poll, as Fly Cardiff took its battle to social media. Appetite for increased capacity in the Welsh capital is strong, illustrated by Fly Cardiff’s Twitter page which has almost 3,250 followers and its dedicated campaigning took hold, seeing the Cardiff project soar into the lead and smash its opponents. The final tally sees Western Gateway’s proposal steal over 57 per cent of the votes, with Birmingham Airport’s proposal following with just shy of 10 per cent, and Heathrow Airport with a smidge over 8 per cent.
I challenged Fly Cardiff founders Kelvin Hayes, Lawrence Evans, John Dellarmi to explain their passion that led to the resounding success of their campaign to better the London airports’ proposals. This was their response:
“Fly Cardiff, a social media campaign group was born out of concern at the lack of flights for Wales' National Airport at Cardiff.
It was no secret that passengers were being lost across the River Severn and along the M5 to competitor airports and three members of the general public with no background in aviation formed the campaign group with a website, Facebook and Twitter pages and passengers and businesses all with the common goal of seeing Cardiff Airport return to more a prominent future have followed in their droves.
Only this week Cardiff Airport has reported three months consistent growth in passenger numbers, whilst realising there is far more to be done to address the requirements of Welsh passengers who no longer wish to travel miles outside of Wales to access essential flights.
It is no doubt as a result of this tireless campaigning that the Western Gateway proposal poll has gained so much support and has won the globalairportcities.com #airpitch poll. There has been much hype in the media that Cardiff Airport could become Heathrow Terminal 6, but for Welsh passengers it is not so much of a proposal as an essential requirement. Welsh passengers want routes back, (that were once available and were only lost because of airline collapse and not as a consequence of lack of passengers) across the Atlantic, to the UAE and beyond and with the recent landing of the A380 – The worlds' largest aircraft, at Cardiff Airport, many passengers are asking how long it can be before there is greater access to International travel from Cardiff Airport.
Wales is a terrific country, as anyone who has visited will testify and Cardiff (its capital city) is a vibrant and hugely popular destination, currently accessed from overseas via several hub airports or from across the English border. Fly Cardiff is counting the days until International airlines recognise the true potential of flying directly to Wales and Cardiff Airport for both inbound and outbound passenger services."
Read more on the #airpitch poll here