Wikipage Cardiff Wales Airport


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Jan 14, 2009
Wurzel Country
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I've updated and revised the CWL Wikipage for 2017.

Cardiff Airport (IATA Code CWL: ICAO code EGFF), is the largest airport in Wales. On 30 March 2013 the airport was purchased for £52 million by the Welsh Government whose leaders had become dissatisfied with the airport's performance over the previous five years with passenger numbers slumping by 50% to little more than one million a year with several airlines pulling out. The previous owner was TBI , which in 2004 was sold to the Spanish infrastructure group Abertis (90%), and the Spanish state airport operator AENA (10%).

It's located near the village of Rhoose in the Vale of Glamorgan local authority area about 12 miles west of the city of Cardiff. In 2015 the airport handled 1.158 million passengers.

The airport's runway length is 2393 metres/7848 feet. It is 67m AMSL. The airport is capable of taking aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 747. An Airbus A380 has landed there but not in revenue service. The airport is home to BAMC (British Airways Maintenance Cardiff), a subsidiary of BA, which carries out all major maintenance on the BA wide-bodied aircraft fleet.


In 1942 the airfield began its life as a wartime satellite aerodrome and training base for the RAF, training Spitfire pilots.

In 1954 Cardiff's municipal airport at Pengam Moor to the east of the city was closed and all operations transferred to the new airport which took the name Rhoose Airport. Subsequent name changes saw the airport called Cardiff-Rhoose Airport, Cardiff-Wales Airport (hence the IATA code CWL) to the current Cardiff Airport/Maes Awyr Caerdydd.

Cardiff Airport was considered the primary airport for both South Wales and the West of England until the early 1980s.

It was once the base of Cambrian Airways, later absorbed into British Airways. In the 1980s a short-lived airline called Airways International Cymru was based at the airport and operated mainly sun charters from there and other UK airports. Another Cardiff-based airline around that time was InterEuropean set up by the Cardiff travel company, Aspro. This airline was later bought by the Airtours Group and merged with their own Airtours airline, later MyTravel and now part of Thomas Cook.

In the early years of this century Air Wales commenced operations from CWL using ATR 42 aircraft and flying scheduled domestic and short-haul European routes. The airline ceased trading in 2006.

From the mid 1980s onwards CWL began to lose ground to the neighbouring Bristol Airport, a process that was accelerated after 2001 when Go (later absorbed into easyJet) and, later, Ryanair both set up large bases on the English side of the Severn estuary.

The Recession Years

The recession hit South Wales especially hard as it is much dependent on the public sector for employment. This played its part in the airport's disappointing performance that saw an annual throughput of nearly 2.1 million passengers in 2007 drop by 50% to 1.01 million in 2012 which proved to be the nadir.

CWL was also hit by the collapse of some important airlines serving the airport. Air Wales was one and another important airline for the airport that ceased trading was Zoom serving Toronto and Vancouver.

However, by far the biggest blow was the decision of bmibaby to withdraw its services from Cardiff from the end of October 2011. This airline had set up a base at the airport in 2002 and its arrival was greeted with great enthusiasm and an expectation that it would enable the airport to fully share in the burgeoning low-cost revolution that was sweeping the industry at that time.

In the event bmibaby never fully embraced Cardiff, as other low cost airlines did at many airports, although it did have three Boeing 737-300 aircraft based at the airport at one point, but it never remotely matched the sort of networks provided by easyJet and Ryanair at Bristol. Ryanair had served Cardiff for several years to Dublin but pulled out in 2006 following a disagreement over airport charges, although it did return in 2014 with a weekly Tenerife service, doubled in frequency the following year, and a new twice-weekly service to Faro beginning in 2017.

Cardiff, like most regional airports, has also seen its charter market diminish in recent years.

It can be seen, therefore, that the recession, the loss of key airlines, fewer charter flights and the proximity to an airport serving a prosperous sub-region across the border in England that also takes a substantial number of potential CWL passengers had left the airport in a very difficult position.

Since Welsh Government ownership

After the Welsh Government purchased the airport in March 2013 that calendar year saw an increase in passenger numbers for the first time since 2007. 1.057 million were handled, which was an increase of 4.3% on 2012. It was mainly due to the Spanish carrier Vueling that had commenced a 3 x weekly Barcelona service and 3 x weekly services to both Palma and Alicante in summer 2012 and added Malaga for summer 2013. Alicante and Malaga both operated year-round from winter 2013-2014 at 2 x weekly. Since then the Vueling routes have increased in frequency with Alicante and Malaga operating 5 x weekly in summer 2017 and at an enhanced 3 x weekly in winter 2017-2018. Palma and Barcelona have also seen frequency increases since their inception.

Flybe decided to axe their CWL routes in 2014. They were replaced by Cityjet that operated to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Paris Orly. However, overall passenger numbers dropped to 1.019 million in 2014.

In the spring of 2015 Flybe announced that it was returning to CWL with a major expansion. Two Embraer 195 aircraft would be based at the airport. It is thought that the Welsh Government's decision to make a loan of £13 million over three years to its airport company for route development purposes played a major part in Flybe's change of heart. A negative aspect was that CityJet announced it would leave CWL.

Flybe began operating its new network in June 2015, initially with one aircraft - the second commenced operations at the end of August that year. The routes were Cork, Dublin (in competition with Aer Lingus Regional), Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey, Dusseldorf, Munich, Paris Cdg, Milan Malpensa, Faro and Belfast City (this route had been retained by Flybe operated by a Belfast-based Q400 aircraft). These routes operated year-round and were joined by ski routes to Geneva and Chambery in the season. There was the usual juggling with some frequencies in the light of experience, as is often the case with a new airline base at any airport, and Verona commenced a summer service in 2016, with Berlin Tegel beginning in October 2016 and Rome in 2017 and Venice in 2018. London City had commenced as a short-term arrangement in September 2016 when the Severn railway tunnel was closed for electrification preparations. This proved successful and the route was retained permanently using a Q400 turbo-prop which will be the airline's third based aircraft at CWL. London City was dropped in October 2017 and the Q400 was replaced by an E175 in March 2018.

Ryanair's return in winter 2014 had generated hopes that they would subsequently expand their CWL presence. As previously mentioned, the weekly Tenerife rotation that marked their re-appearance was later doubled in frequency and Faro begins in 2017.
In April 2019 Ryanair will also begin 2 weekly flights to Malta and will operate 2 weekly flights to Barcelona taken over from Vueling who dropped the route and between June and September will also operate 3 weekly flights to Malaga taking their operation from 3 weekly flights in 2018 to 10 weekly flights during that period.

One negative matter was the decision of Aer Lingus Regional (operated by Stobart Air) to cease operations at CWL in autumn 2016 on its sole route to Dublin.

This was counter-balanced by an extremely positive event with the announcement that Iberia Express, like Vueling part of the International Airlines Group, would commence a 2 x weekly Madrid service in summer 2017. Another new airline is Blue Islands, which will operate 3 x weekly to Guernsey (a route that has been missing at CWL for many years) in summer 2017 in collaboration with Flybe. Unfortunately both routes were dropped for Summer 2019 along with Berlin and Dusseldorf from Flybe.
In May 2018 Qatar Airways started to operate at first a 5 weekly service and then from mid June a daily service to it's hub in Doha with a wide bodied 787 8 aircraft and becoming the first direct scheduled long haul route to Wales.

Since the Welsh Government purchased CWL in the spring of 2013 passenger numbers have grown impressively. As mentioned, 2013 itself saw a 4.3% rise in passenger numbers to 1.051 million. A fall to 1.020 million in 2014 was quickly turned around in the following two years following Flybe's arrival, with 1.158 million and 1.344 million passengers respectively. In 2017 the airport saw 1.464 million passengers use it. In 2018 the airport saw 1.579 million passengers use it. 2019 is set to see further passenger number increases.

The original intention of the Welsh Goverment was to find a private sector partner but so far that has not come about, although in the longer term there will probably be some form of private sector involvement.

The Welsh Government supported a proposal called the Western Gateway Project submitted for consideration by the Davies Commission into the future of the UK's air transport. The idea was to use CWL as an overspill to Heathrow for long-haul routes but the Commission rejected the proposal.

Nevertheless, Wales's First Minister believes that CWL can become an important long haul hub and raise its status in the UK airport hierarchy.

Aircraft and Routes

Flybe bases now three Embraer 175s at CWL for its scheduled route network. The Flybe base was closed at the end of October 2019. Flybe still operate to the airport with non based Q400s and they overnight 1 Q400. Eastern Airways operates the Valley PSO route with Jetstream 41 aircraft.

A KLM Cityhopper aircraft overnights at CWL and is used on the Amsterdam route. The Fokker 70 aircraft have been replaced by Embraer E175s and sometimes E190s to operate the 3 x daily flights (during March 2019 KLM have trialled a 4th early afternoon flight with mainly a 737). Other scheduled carriers are Eastern Airways (Jetstream 41), Vueling (Airbus A320), Ryanair (Boeing B738) and Qatar Airways (Boeing 787 8).

The major tour companies base aircraft at the airport for charter/inclusive tour operations. In summer 2017 there are two TUI 737-800s to be increased to 3 in 2019 and one SmartLynx A320 that operates for Thomas Cook in addition there will be a weekly visit on Fridays from a Thomas Cook A321 which will end in October 2018 but for 2019 Thomas Cook will start in April and will operate a Smartlynx A321. Thomas Cook ceased operations in September 2019.

In addition Norwegian Air Shuttle, Eurowings and Freebird Airlines will operate regular charters for TUI Airlines UK these airlines will not operate to CWL after October 2018 on behalf of TUI as in May 2019 TUI will base a 3rd 737 800. Enter Air are regular visitors operating for many tour operators.

In winter TUI operates a reduced schedule of charter routes.

Scheduled Flights


Chambery - Flybe (winter only)
Paris CDG - Flybe


Dublin -Flybe
Cork - Flybe


Malta - Ryanair


Amsterdam - KLM Cityhopper


Faro - Ryanair

Spain and Spanish Islands

Barcelona - Ryanair (summer only)
Alicante - Vueling
Palma - Vueling (summer only)
Malaga - Vueling and Ryanair (June to September only)
Tenerife - Ryanair


Geneva - Flybe (winter only)


Doha - Qatar Airways

United Kingdom and Channel Islands

Aberdeen - Eastern
Anglesey - Eastern (PSO route)
Belfast City - Flybe
Edinburgh - Flybe
Glasgow - Flybe
Jersey - Flybe
Newcastle - Eastern

Charter Route


Burgas- TUI and Balkan Holidays


Barbados- P&O Cruises and TUI
Jamaica- TUI




Sharm el Sheikh (starts November 2020)

Greece and Cyprus

Paphos- TUI
Larnaca- TUI
Rhodes- TUI
Zakynthos- TUI
Heraklion (Crete)-TUI




Bergen-Hurtigruten Cruises

Spain and the Canary Islands and Portugal

Palma de Mallorca-TUI
Gran Canaria-TUI
Lanzarote- TUI
Tenerife South- TUI

Turkey and Tunisia

Enfidha- TUI


Cardiff's Annual Passenger Figures from 1961

Cardiff Airport's annual passenger figures in millions/parts thereof from 1961 to 2013 - figures from CAA.

1961 0.069

1962 0.075

1963 0.093

1964 0.104

1965 0.112

1966 0.139

1967 0.136

1968 0.130

1969 0.116

1970 0.171

1971 0.213

1972 0.239

1973 0.284

1974 0.230

1975 0.209

1976 0.192

1977 0.196

1978 0.234

1979 0.254

1980 0.261

1981 0.294

1982 0.366

1983 0.383

1984 0.429

1985 0.387

1986 0.487

1987 0.632

1988 0.619

1989 0.696

1990 0.593

1991 0.513

1992 0.653

1993 0.764

1994 0.990

1995 1.025

1996 1.001

1997 1.124

1998 1.230

1999 1.303

2000 1.500

2001 1.524

2002 1.416

2003 1.900

2004 1.873

2005 1.765

2006 1.993

2007 2.094

2008 1.979

2009 1.625

2010 1.398

2011 1.208

2012 1.013

2013 1.057

2014 1.019

2015 1.158

2016 1.344

2017 1.464

2018 1.579

Breakdown of CWL Passenger Figures For 2017 Route By Route - ack CAA stats

Amsterdam (Netherlands)
134,095 - 1%
Palma (Balearics) 112,069 + 3%
Alicante (Spain) 105,458 + 13%
Dublin (R of I) 100,973 - 8%

Edinburgh (UK) 99,369 + 5%
Tenerife (Canaries) 88,884 + 13%
Malaga (Spain) 87,195 + 6%

Paris Cdg (France) 60,820 + 12%
Faro (Portugal) 57,066 + 52 %
Belfast City (UK) 50,909 + 17%
Arrecife (Canaries) 46,031 + 4%

Ibiza (Balearics) 32,534 - 7%
Milan Malpensa (Italy) 31,133 + 22%
Glasgow (UK) 28,919 - 23%
Barcelona (Spain) 25,664 - 16%
Dalaman (Turkey) 25,219 + 21%
Mahon (Balearics) 23,064 + 9%
London City (UK) 21,273 + 71%
Zakynthos (Greek Islands) 20,916 - 2%
Rome FCO (Italy) 20,211 new route

Burgas (Bulgaria) 19,101 + 5%
Las Palmas (Canaries) 19,097 u/c
Berlin Tegel (Germany) 18,559 + 497% first full year of route
Munich (Germany) 17,955 - 4%
Larnaca (Cyprus) 17,219 - 5%
Jersey (Channel Islands) 17,134 + 3%
Rhodes (Greek Islands) 16,829 + 1%
Reus (Spain) 16,444 u/c
Cork (Ireland) 15,428 + 33%
Paphos (Cyprus)
14,053 - 2%
Newcastle (UK) 13,855 +1 %
Anglesey (UK) 13,855 + 42%

Madrid (Spain) 9,738 new route
Heraklion (Crete) 9,612 + 4%
Verona (Italy) 9,556 + 153% increased frequency
Corfu (Greek Islands) 9,360 - 2%
Aberdeen (UK) 8,363 + 49%
Kos (Greek Islands) 8,336 - 3%
Kefalonia (Greek Islands) 7,617 + 2%
Bridgetown (Barbados) 4,490 + 95% increased frequency
Geneva (Switzerland) 3,726 + 8%
Guernsey (Channel Islands) 3,264 new route
Dusseldorf (Germany) 2,663 - 27%
Orlando (USA) 1,260 + 104%
Dubai DWC (UAE) 1,136 new route cruise flights
Chambery (France) 1,855 - 25%
Fuerteventura (Canaries) 731 - 51%
Tarbes-Lourdes (France) 671 - 4%
Ivalo (Finland) 358 u/c Santa Christmas route
Montego Bay (Jamaica) 298 - 83%
Enontekio (Finland) 187 - 51% Santa Christmas route

In addition there were one-off charters/other ad hoc passenger flights (often rugby or football related) to the following destinations:

Vienna 306
Brussels 178
Zagreb 131
Claremont Ferrand 83
Lyon 424
Lyon Brun 35
Nice 136
Paris Le Bourget 172
Paris Orly 561
Pau 116
Berlin Schoenfeld 43
Frankfurt 131
Hahn 101
Hamburg 32
Gibraltar 162
Knock 40
Shannon 333
Bergamo 511
Bologna 338
Catania 339
Genoa 51
Pisa 36
Treviso 44
Turin 5,978 - in connection with European Champions League Final, Cardiff
Venice 652 - a regular Flybe scheduled route will commence in 2018
Girona 211
Valencia 48
Pajala Yllas (Sweden) 379
Vaxjo (Sweden) 87
Molde (Norway) 178
Tromsoe 168
Belgrade 143
Altenrhein (Switzerland) 45
Zurich 128
Krakow 712
Chisinau (Moldova) 120
Gatwick 86
Luton 85
Southend 180
Belfast International 302
Bristol 808
Doncaster-Sheffield 34
Durham Tees Valley 163
East Midlands 76
Humberside 233
Leeds-Bradford 96
Liverpool 195
Manchester 733
Norwich 83
Prestwick 143
Southampton 76

Total 16,445

The CAA was unable to identify a further 36 passengers as to route.

2017 passenger figures submitted by TheLocal Yokel 19/3/2018

Updated and revised by Jerry 3/11/2017
Updated and revised by Jerry 25/1/2018

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Last edited by a moderator:


Staff member
Jan 12, 2009
The first post in this thread has become a Wikipage. I've done a rather poor copy and paste job of TheLocalYokel's post using my mobile phone . Feel free to edit and copy the rest over, add to and so on. We store previous versions if necessary. Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham all hAve their own very different versions to get ideas from.


Staff member
Jun 1, 2016
Just updated the wiki post with Venice, Hurghada, Akureyri and Seville and the long haul flights for 2017 and 2018.


Staff member
Jan 12, 2009
Hi there!

I have had to temporarily disable the wikipage feature due to a bug in the software for this feature. I can re-enable this temporarily if anybody wishes to carry out updates to the thread. I'll report back if I can get the add-on fixed.


Staff member
Jun 1, 2016
I've updated the wikipage with some info about Flybe's aircraft that will be based for 2018 Qatar Airways and Superbreaks new one off charters. I've also updated the route maps with the new Superbreak routes and Venice.


Staff member
Jan 14, 2009
Wurzel Country
IMPORTANT!! To reduce spam, we request that you make a post soon after completing your registration. We request you keep your account active by posting regularly. Inactive accounts risk being deleted.
  • Thread starter
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  • #9
I've updated the CWL Overview Wikipage to include 2017 passenger figures for all routes - courtesy of CAA.
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