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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Talking down Wales

By far the most bizarre part of the Assembly Plenary session yesterday came right at the end of First Minister's questions when, responding to a question from Welsh Liberal Democrat, Eluned Parrott, Carwyn Jones turned his ire onto Cardiff Wales airport.

As the Western Mail reports, Mr. Jones said he would not want to bring people into Wales through the airport. He told Plenary that the condition of Cardiff Airport does not give the right impression of Wales and said that its owners should “either run the airport properly or sell it”.

Personally, I prefer Cardiff Wales airport to Bristol. It is easier to get to (and I am not just talking distance) and it is more user-friendly. I accept that it has seen better times and that it would benefit from running more routes to a wider range of destinations, but I do not recognise its portrayal by the First Minister.

What is more, I got the impression that Carwyn Jones' remarks were not off the cuff, but part of a wider deliberative process. If that is the case then this talking down of Wales is difficult to justify.

Whatever the faults of the airport, it remains a significant and important gateway to Wales. In allowing his frustrations with the airport management to manifest itself in this way, the First Minister has undermined the work of many people and organisations who are continuing to work to attract investment to Wales.

As Eluned Parrott says: “The Welsh Labour Government needs to stop talking Wales down.

“Just a few weeks ago, we heard the First Minister talk about subsiding flight links between Cardiff and China. Now the First Minister has rather bizarrely stated he wouldn’t bring anyone to Wales’ only international airport.

“The First Minister needs to stop talking our capital city’s airport down and instead he should be doing all he can to encourage visitors to Cardiff airport.

“His comments are hardly going to encourage tourism and business to Wales. We need to see the Welsh Labour Government taking a lead in supporting the development of Cardiff Airport.

“Having met with Cardiff Airport’s management team in Rhoose last month, I believe that it is a source of great frustration that the Welsh Government has not yet detailed its vision for aviation in Wales.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for an aviation strategy to encourage a multi-agency approach to tackling the problem of dwindling numbers that is of concern to us all.”

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