The Welsh First Minister who only a few months ago stated that the nationalised Cardiff Airport had a future with long haul flights* has now been caught out.
Cardiff Airport which was bought by the Welsh Government at the cost of £52 million to the Welsh taxpayer and which has cost, to date, sums in excess of £80m has seen over the years declining passenger numbers with some recent stabilisation. What most seen as a white elephant purchase Cardiff Airport has little infrastructure and few routes, but does have the capacity for travel to mainland Europe and Ireland for connecting flights.
Recent figures released have now exposed the Welsh Government's lack of confidence in the airport as only 5 out of 80 ministerial trade missions used Cardiff Airport. The First Minister has himself travelled from Heathrow on a three day jolly in the US ahead of St David’s Day. In what has been an described by Cardiff Bay spin doctors as an attempt to boost economic links, Carwyn Jones had the choice to fly to Amsterdam or Dublin from Cardiff and then catch a connecting flight to Washington where he was due to start his tour, but instead opted to fly first class with British Airways to avoid the mild inconvenience of catching a connecting flight.
Many critics of the farcical proceedings are calling for the Assembly to concentrate on the real business of the airport. As the Shadow Transport Minister in the Assembly said, the intention "should be to grow the airport, add routes - and sell it back to the private sector."
Mr Jones should now focus on the best interests of Welsh taxpayers and if his government want to publicise Cardiff as the gateway to the Welsh economy as well as getting a return on investment then they must act that this is actually the case.
Lee Canning is the Grassroots Co-ordinator of the TaxPayers' Alliance in Wales