Cardiff International Airport
Cardiff International Airport is a single terminal airport located just west of the Welsh capital. Serving over a million passengers every year, Cardiff Airport is both the largest airport in Wales and the only one to offer scheduled international flights. Consequently, for over fifty years Cardiff Airport has been the primary airport of South, Middle, and West Wales.
Today, Cardiff International acts as a public airport run owned by the private company Cardiff International Airport Limited. In addition to over 60 regular destinations from the various airlines operating out of the main terminal, Cardiff International also supports corporate and general aviation flights.
History of Cardiff Airport
Cardiff Airport has its roots in the operations set up by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II. Originally designated as a training base for RAF Spitfires, the airfield was built in the village of Rhoose, Vale of Glamorgan. After the war, the former base would be abandoned until the 1950s, when the runway was chosen by the Welsh Government as the new home of civilian flight for South Wales.
After several years of renovation, the airport began operating flights to Dublin in 1952, and by 1954, all civilian flights from Cardiff Municipal Airport were transferred to the new airport. Over the next ten years, a new terminal building and additional international destinations were added, servicing over 100,000 passengers every year.
As control of the airport turned over to the Glamorgan County Council, the 1960’s and 70’s would see additional investments in the airport’s infrastructure. Work on the Terminal Building, Control Tower, and runway allowed the airport to attract even more traffic. Another extension of the runway in 1986 allowed the airport’s transatlantic travel to expand, while also giving the airport the ability to handle bigger and more powerful jumbo jets.
Over the course of the next 25 years, Cardiff International would see several major changes, including privatization in 1995. By 2008, Cardiff International Airport cracked the top 20 of busiest UK airports, although it has since fallen to 21st with a steady decline in recent passenger numbers. In 2009, Cardiff International Airport was officially renamed Cardiff Airport, although Cardiff International Airport remains a regularly used alternative. Since 2006, ongoing renovations have spurred multiple rumors of even larger renovations in the near future.
As a regional airport, Cardiff International Airport remains an important part of the UK’s commercial flight industry. Additionally, the airport has played and continues to play an important role in several other aspects of the aviation industry. Heli-air Wales, a pioneer in Welsh Helicopter Training originated operations out of the airport in 1995 before moving operations in 1999.
Meanwhile, a number of aviation and aerospace corporations and schools are located near the airport, making it a major economic contributor to the region. The 1986 runway extension even attracted British Airways, who set up their primary maintenance hanger at the airport. Even today, this massive facility remains one of the largest maintenance hangers in the world.
Other important milestones achieved by Cardiff International include being the first airport in Wales to operate Public Service Obligation (PSO) flights. Designed to take the pressure off congested road and rail systems, the PSO began operation in 2007 with up to 10 flights each day connecting Cardiff and Southern Wales to the Northern part of the country. After three years of wildly successful operation, the service was renewed in 2010 with a four-year deal and a new carrier.
Multiple transportation options to Cardiff Airport are available including a number of taxi services, rail, and bus alternatives. Short and long-term parking are also available, although reservations are recommended for long-term spots.