Cardiff airport will stay open despite local lockdown – but loses Doha link for winter

Simon Calder
·2 min read
Parking space: Cardiff airport is currently home to some British Airways Jumbo jets (Simon Calder)
Parking space: Cardiff airport is currently home to some British Airways Jumbo jets (Simon Calder)

Despite the local lockdown that will come into force across the Vale of Glamorgan at 6pm on Monday, Cardiff airport will remain open.

The main aviation gateway for Wales, southwest of the capital, is in the affected area. But the airport’s interim chief executive, Spencer Birns, said: “As a vital part of the transport infrastructure in Wales it is essential the airport remains open for legitimate travel and air movements, as we have done throughout the pandemic.

“Local lockdown restrictions state that residents of areas in lockdown should not travel outside the area, unless there is a reasonable excuse to do so.

“For those travelling from areas not in lockdown, there are currently no legal restrictions about travelling to the airport, as long as rules are obeyed when they do so.”

Passengers should assess whether they are permitted to leave their local area and have a legitimate reason to fly. “This is not for the airport to determine,” Birns said.

Much of South Wales is under local lockdown. Travel out of these areas is limited to essential journeys only, which the Welsh government stipulates does not include travelling for a holiday – though they can travel to an airport, whether in Wales or elsewhere, to pick up a member of the household who is returning home.

The Welsh government has asked travel firms to “respond positively” to the situation and refund payments made for holidays by people who are not now allowed to travel, but the legal position is in dispute.

Cardiff airport is refunding car parking and executive lounge bookings that were made direct on the website by people who are now not allowed to travel.

The airport serving the Welsh capital currently has an average of three arrivals and departures each day. It is also being used by British Airways to store some of the Boeing 747 fleet that has been grounded.

Qatar Airways, which operates the flagship service from Cardiff to Doha with more than 100 onward connections, has cancelled the link through the winter season.

Mr Birns said: “We fully support the decision taken by Qatar Airways to postpone operations across many airports in their network, including Cardiff. This is due to ongoing global travel restrictions, government guidelines and reduced demand for travel caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Flights for spring 2021 remain on sale and we will continue to work closely with the Qatar Airways team and look forward to welcoming them back to Wales.”

The Doha-based carrier has also axed flights from Birmingham until March 2021, and reduced frequencies from other UK airports.

Qatar Airways has just announced a £1.5bn loss – amounting to £48 per second – for the financial year of 2019-20.

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