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Looks to be game, set and match to Abertis

Just before Christmas we discovered that the First Minister of Wales, The Rt Hon. Carwyn Jones AM had bought the nation an unexpected Christmas gift – an airport.

Well to say he’s bought it is jumping the gun slightly, what he and the Welsh Government have done is to enter into an ‘Exclusive relationship’ with the airport’s owners – Abertis to buy it. This is of course without consulting the Assembly, without revealing the price he’s offered, without revealing a business plan for the airports future, or without even stating what his government is planning on doing with it or who he plans to let run it.

As the Welsh Liberal Democrat’s Shadow Economy and Transport Minister, I have no philosophical objections to an airport being in state ownership.  There are plenty of examples of it working well elsewhere, alongside plenty of examples of private ownership also being effective.

What matters to me is the impact of decisions we take, as politicians, on the world outside the political bubble.  In this case there are three main tests;

● Can passengers expect a greater range of flights and a better quality of service? 

● Will it have a positive impact on the economy of South Wales? 

● Does it represent good value for money for Welsh taxpayers?

At this moment in time, there is no evidence to satisfy me on any of these points.

Over the past year, the First Minister of Wales has used every opportunity to run down Cardiff Airport and its management.  While he may feel this was a clever move, driving the potential price of the airport down, it will also have acted to scare away any airlines interested in running flights from Cardiff (after all, even the local politicians think it’s a terrible airport) and to scare off any potential private investors.  What private investor would want to buy an airport that is humiliated in public and subject to so much political interference?

At the end of the day, the First Minister’s immoderate rhetoric over the past year has led to only two possible options being viable – Abertis pulling out without an alternative buyer (and thereby shutting the airport) or forcing Carwyn to buy it.

As Abertis only bought Cardiff Airport as part of a deal with the far more lucrative Luton, I think we can say that precious few tears are being shed over this in Barcelona right now.  In fact, Abertis have washed their hands of a business that, in the apparent opinion of the First Minister, they didn’t have a lot of interest in and have now got the first minister of Wales over a barrel in terms of price, having promised to buy it before he agreed a price.

Until I see evidence to the contrary, I’d say that was game set and match to Abertis.

This afternoon I shall be contributing to a debate in the National Assembly, questioning the Governments announcement.

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2 Responses

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  1. Seamus1967 says

    Your bullet points are well presented, however you fail to include the point .. “what would happen if Wales was without an airport”

    You also imply that “it will also have acted to scare away any airlines interested in running flights from Cardiff”. Yet you present no evidence for this statement.

    It strikes me as just more political statements from politicians. At least someone is pulling their finger out and trying to do something, rather
    than just blindly backing capitalist idealism.

    Fair enough, argue your point. But in the meantime, peoples lives are falling apart in this “non existant” recession.

    I admire those that take a stand.

    Nice to see there is no comment from the LD’s about the Universal jobsearch. I live in a very rural area, we have one bus a day. I can potentially get to work for 2 hrs a day if I can find anyone that will employ me as a single parent.

    Yet I have to apply for jobs that I cannot commit too. What is the point? It might work in the cities and in Engirland but does it work for me in rural Cymru?

    The poor are being betrayed by all the major parties.

    If you look at the last 20 years, it’s the rich that got richer, the middle class were promidsed to get richer. The working class that never gave a toss about being richer are the ones that are paying for this crap.

    I’m not the only one that feels like this, most people I talk to feel the same. Yet a 50% turnout in elections is considered good enough to rule us.

    Well I’ll tell you now, you that have power have failed us. It is a growing opinion of the people I talk to (none of us have dedicated political persuadtions), that voting is a waste of time and tnat we can ( and do) achieve more without polititions.

    The idea of self rule is growing. So is the idea that people earning 100k a week telling us how to cut back, is dying. Polititians should learn to live the way most others do….£16k a year and bring your kids up on that.

    Left wing, right wing, it’s all claptrap. Once, long ago, it was not this way.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. LibLink…Eluned Parrott AM: Looks to be game, set and match to Abertis linked to this post on January 9, 2013

    [...] You can read the full article here. [...]