Bristol and Cardiff airports are both 'unsatisfactory' and should work together, says mayor George Ferguson
BRISTOL mayor George Ferguson has called for the city's airport to join forces with its nearest and fiercest rival.
Mr Ferguson claimed that both Bristol and Cardiff airports were "unsatisfactory" and would be stronger if they worked together.
He made the comments after it emerged that more Welsh people use Bristol than Cardiff Airport.
Just under six million passengers travelled through Lulsgate last year compared to under a million at Wales's biggest airport.
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The falling passenger numbers at Cardiff have triggered alarm bells and have led to the Regional Assembly putting in a bid to buy the airport.
However, Mr Ferguson has come up with a novel proposal. He said: "What we have got is two airports which are both slightly unsatisfactory, neither are particularly well positioned.
"It would be good if we combined forces with Cardiff, I am not suggesting a Boris-type island in the middle of the Severn, not just yet anyway, but there must be some way in which the two airports could work closer together.
"The problem is that we have a privately owned airport and one that is about to be owned publicly so there could be issues."
There have been concerns about the Regional Assembly buying the airport. There are fears its would give Cardiff an unfair advantage by the Welsh Government.
Robert Sinclair, chief executive at Bristol Airport, said: "We welcome the mayor's support for fair competition on a level playing field and his comments on the dangers of 'special deals on taxation'.
"Bristol Airport is the fifth largest airport outside London and the only one of the UK's top ten to see growth each year since the end of 2009.
"Over 100 destinations are served direct, with new routes to Milan, Munich and Bristol's twin city, Hannover, announced earlier this week.
"We have also made significant investment to improve public transport access from across the South West and South Wales, and rank as one of the most noise efficient airports in the UK – so we take issue with the mayor's view that Bristol Airport is somehow 'unsatisfactory' and badly positioned, neither of which is borne out by analysis of our passenger figures or consideration of environmental impacts.
"We look forward to working more closely with the mayor in the coming months to ensure he fully appreciates the economic contribution made by Bristol Airport and the vital role access to air links plays in supporting business growth and investment."