Bus service brings Welsh flyers to Bristol instead
BRISTOL Airport has struck a major blow in the battle to win customers from its closest and fiercest rival.
The airport has signed a deal which will see a direct Greyhound bus link from South Wales.
Cardiff Airport is Bristol's closest rival and has struggled in recent years to attract passengers. Numbers have fallen to such an extent that the Welsh Regional Assembly has stepped in and announced that it wants to buy the airport.
The latest announcement is being seen as a major blow for Cardiff as it is targeted directly at people living in the airport's catchment area.
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At the moment, Bristol has around 5.8 million customers a year compared to its rivals which had 1.6 million.
The plunge in passenger numbers has seen a number of airlines pull services from the airport in recent years.
Under the new deal, Greyhound coach services, which currently operates between Swansea and Cardiff, are being extended to Bristol from March. The new service will provide a direct coach link to and from Swansea, Cardiff, Newport and Bristol Airport.
The move, which will see Greyhound operating in the West of England for the first time, means that customers travelling both to and from South and West Wales will soon have a greater range of options open to them when considering their travel requirements.
Transport operator First originally brought the iconic American Greyhound brand to the UK four years ago in 2009, taking steps to re-brand the Swansea-Cardiff Shuttle a year later as a Greyhound UK Service.
Having worked with Bristol Airport on the plans, the development of the new route will see up to an hourly Greyhound UK service between Swansea and Bristol Airport.
First says it is responding to customer requests but also increasing travel options for people in South and West Wales.
The run to Bristol Airport will operate as a limited stop service, calling at Cardiff Bus Station, Newport Railway Station, the University of the West of England and Bristol Bus Station.
Marc Reddy, regional commercial director for First in the South West and Wales, said: "The extension of this service is significant. We believe there is real potential for growth here, both from people in Wales who want to be able to access Bristol city centre and Bristol Airport more easily, but also from people and businesses in North Bristol, who for instance will benefit from a direct coach link from the University of the West of England to Bristol Airport. We anticipate the news will be particularly welcomed by those at UWE, the Ministry of Defence site in Abbeywood and at Airbus and Rolls Royce, who will no doubt find the new service useful.
"We believe the new service will complement the existing Airport Flyer service, which we operate on behalf of the airport, giving people additional choices over how they get to and from the airport."
Robert Sinclair, airport chief executive, added: "This is an exciting addition to the public transport options available for passengers in an important part of our catchment area."