The Welsh government has pledged more than £42 million to safeguard the future of Cardiff airport, and has written off in excess of another £42 million in debt accrued by the airport.
Wales’s transport minister, Ken Skates AM, said the grant would support a five-year rescue, restructure, and recovery plan for the country’s main international airport.
Skates said the investment recognised the airport’s role as a vital gateway for businesses, tourists and travellers.
"It is vital for Wales’s economic development that we have strong international connectivity to and from Wales, as well as a welcoming open door for tourism," said Skates.
The Welsh government purchased the airport in 2013 to safeguard the country’s infrastructure, and has been operating it "at an arm’s length on a commercial basis".
Skates said prior to the onset of the Covid crisis, the airport had "witnessed a significant turnaround in fortunes", citing CAA figures showing 50% passenger growth under government ownership in the period to March 2020.
He added the airport would be integrated into South Wales’s new Metro programme, and stressed the new funding would indirectly help sustain more than 5,000 jobs.
The government will provide £42.6 million in grant funding for the airport, and will write off an equal amount in debt.
Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots union Balpa, said the move "recognised the importance of Cardiff airport to the Welsh economy and the country’s future".
“I recently wrote to the first ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland encouraging them to support their vital aviation industries, and I am pleased that the Welsh government is indeed doing so to such a significant extent."
Strutton, though, said he was disappointed by commitments from Westminster and the UK’s other devolved administrations, criticising chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget for failing to acknowledge "the crisis in UK aviation".
"Governments across Europe and around the world have recognised that aviation has been severely hit as a result of policies to deal with the pandemic and have provided significant sector-specific support – why is the UK government so keen on letting our own aviation sector sink?" said Strutton.