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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 08:58
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Management

Rigby (RCA) have shown at BOH, EXT and NWI what progressive and focused management can achieve in the post pandemic climate at small regional airports and Itheir aviation division makes a profit (albeit small at just under £3m in 2023). They have got Jet2 at BOH, growth at the other 2 airports. Again, I ask the WG to have a really hard look at the stagnant management team at CWL and show they want our national airport to thrive - it is possible with this kind of catchment and climate to grow but CWL just seems stuck in a big commercial rut. Something clearly isn’t working - I believe there is demand and TUI currently have a very nice commercial monopoly and can no doubt flex their yields nicely with their 3 a/c base. The airport can’t carry on as is and expect a different outcome.

i know this is an old debate but I don’t see anything changing and it is very frustrating. Who is holding the fire/burning platform under the management who must be very comfortable.

Last edited by TOM100; 3rd Apr 2024 at 09:23.
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 09:13
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Originally Posted by TOM100
Rigby (RCA) have shown at BOH, EXT and NWI what progressive and focused management can achieve in the post pandemic climate at small regional airports and Itheir aviation division makes a profit (albeit small at just under £3m in 2023). They have got Jet2 at BOH, growth at the other 2 airports. Again, I ask the WG to have a really hard look at the stagnant management team at CWL and show they want our national airport to thrive - it is possible with this kind of catchment and climate to grow but CWL just seems stuck in a big commercial rut. Something clearly isnít working - I believe there is demand and TUI currently have a very nice commercial monopoly and can no doubt flex their yields nicely with their 3 a/c base. The airport canít carry on as is and expect a different outcome.

i know this is an old debate but I donít see anything changing and it is very frustrating. Who is holding the fire/burning platform under the management who must be very comfortable.
Questions do need to be asked why CWL is falling behind other Airports. But at the same time, are you completely forgetting that CWLs management in recent years have got Qatar Airways in, Wizz in, Loganair in to replace flybe to Edinburgh, Aer Lingus in to replace Flybe to Belfast, continued growth from TUI each year and continued growth from Ryanair?

Shouldn't those questions also be posed to Airlines? Historic demand has been there, why don't they think it's there now?
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 09:29
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Agreed, there have been some wins but where is the sustained growth and re-growth that is being experienced at nearly every other UK airport (SEN springs to mind as an exception - another example of poor management and ownership) ? Yes, I agree that airlines have to step up but what are the other airports doing that is seeing them grow whilst Cardiff”s numbers are in decline ? CWL arguably has a bigger catchment, more benign ownership model (than say, BOH, EXT) and cannot sustain growth. I am just pointing out it’s like Einsteins parable of quantum insanity to keep doing the same things and expecting different results.

Wizz failed (airline performance shambolic admittedly), CWL is only UK airport QR have not returned to, VY stagnant with lower flights than pre pandemic, TUI stagnant and a monopoly, KL down to 2 flights a day, Paris dropped, EDI numbers down, FR growth yes, but not spectacular - it’s not a great record and it should be better with air traffic demand now back to pre pandemic levels and growing and reportedly good LFs ex CWL obviously yield dependant. This airport is capable and has handled 2m plus pax a year - now it is less than 1m. Something is not working. Yes we can look to airlines, but other airports are growing with the same macro background - why ?

2 airports can be successful side by side like CWL/BRS - see EMA/BHX or GLA/EDI.

i hope the WG are talking or have talked to RCA who offer a management service but keeps the ownership in Welsh hands. I want this airport to thrive - I just think there needs to be change, it’s a great facility.

Last edited by TOM100; 3rd Apr 2024 at 09:55.
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 17:49
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Rule number one
When things are not as good as we want them to be blame the management, it is always down to them, never mind the extenuating circumstances that surround the difficulties they face.
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 18:00
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That’s my point - these are the same extenuating circumstances that would be affecting every other UK airport - what is different at Cardiff ? In fact at the moment you could argue that the extenuating circumstances affecting aviation right now are positive - increased demand for vacations (despite the cost of living crisis) ; confirmed by multiple tour operators, air traffic expected to increase above pre-pandemic levels etc You might think against this background a business in the sector would be growing (as most others are) not declining…….

BTW - I want the airport to work, I use it once or twice a month (or I did until the 6am KL flight stopped) - I am just stating some facts.

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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 18:30
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Originally Posted by TOM100
Thatís my point - these are the same extenuating circumstances that would be affecting every other UK airport - what is different at Cardiff ? In fact at the moment you could argue that the extenuating circumstances affecting aviation right now are positive - increased demand for vacations (despite the cost of living crisis) ; confirmed by multiple tour operators, air traffic expected to increase above pre-pandemic levels etc You might think against this background a business in the sector would be growing (as most others are) not decliningÖÖ.
All very valid points. CWL has not recovered as well as many other Airports. BRS has been one of the best to recover and is now over pre-pandemic passenger numbers.
What does that tell you? A large chunk of those 10m passengers are probably coming from Wales.

How do you convince Airlines to try and win those using BRS to use CWL again? What exactly can the management do?
It's a shame Wizz didn't mess up their launch, as things might be very different with a based low-cost carrier than doesn't have links to BRS.
CWL's last option of anything like that is FR. It will be interesting to see what happens with their schedule after this summer.

CWL seriously needs to look at it's marketing. Over recent years it's been dire. Social Media is a free platform to advertise, and CWL should also be investing in other marketing. It's not just down to Airlines to market their flights.
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 18:50
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Originally Posted by caaardiff
Social Media is a free platform to advertise, and CWL should also be investing in other marketing. It's not just down to Airlines to market their flights.
Sorry to be pedantic. Social media is certainly not free to advertise. It may be free to reach up to 20% of your followers. (Cardiff Airport has around 35,000 followers) So a post may be seen by up to 7,000 of people who are already interested.
To reach "new people" on Facebook and Instagram you need to spend on advertising. This can be remarkably low cost but it still needs objectives, a plan and a budget. I'm afraid that a few random posts won't cut it.
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 18:55
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Carrrdiff - Well you just gave one example of what management can do - what did the management at BOH and EXT do ? What did LPL do ? Same airlines, same competitive industry with nearby airports. That’s my point again other smaller regional airports are being successful and they don’t have such benign owners (their owners are looking for returns).
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 18:59
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Originally Posted by GROUNDHOG
Rule number one
When things are not as good as we want them to be blame the management, it is always down to them, never mind the extenuating circumstances that surround the difficulties they face.
Absolutely - the easy option.

But look at TOM - expanding elsewhere but not at CWL, RYR - expanding elsewhere but not at CWL. What does that tell you? Maybe there is somenthing more fundamentally wrong than the social media strategy etc. Local economy, small/restricted catchement area, etc
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 19:03
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Originally Posted by SWBKCB
Absolutely - the easy option.

But look at TOM - expanding elsewhere but not at CWL, RYR - expanding elsewhere but not at CWL. What does that tell you? Maybe there is somenthing more fundamentally wrong than the social media strategy etc. Local economy, small/restricted catchement area, etc
If they aren't marketing (including spending), on Facebook or elsewhere, that suggests that their hands are tied. No budget? Spending cutbacks? Sounds like PIK - owned by the Scottish Government. Is there a pattern?
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 19:07
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Originally Posted by SWBKCB
Absolutely - the easy option.

But look at TOM - expanding elsewhere but not at CWL, RYR - expanding elsewhere but not at CWL. What does that tell you? Maybe there is somenthing more fundamentally wrong than the social media strategy etc. Local economy, small/restricted catchement area, etc
Small restricted catchment area - same for some other regional airports (who see growth) and the area is larger now than when the airport handled 2m plus pax a year.

Local economy - ditto above (not saying CWL will ever be on a scale of the neighbour) and again, more businesses, financial services etc in the area than 10 years ago.

Something is wrong that the airport is going backwards in terms of pax numbers. Last years pax numbers were lower than 30 years ago The local economy is in far better shape than in 1994 -Welsh GDP significantly higher, however you spin it; airline bad luck, competition, local economy, it should be doing better. Any other failing business (or at least underperforming);shareholders would be asking serious questions of the management - that’s their job.

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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 19:49
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I can tell you exactly what the likes of Rigby and LPL do, they talk to airlines. To be more specific they don't just talk to airlines, they present well-researched business cases with facts that can be backed up. They tell you what businesses are travelling and where to and how often and sometimes even what they are currently paying to go via points a/b/c. Then they offer you a good proposition to help with the start-up phase of operations. It's a fairly well-worn, successful formula but it needs a substantial amount of focussed legwork by the airport.
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 20:01
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The purpose of marketing an airport is to attract its customers. The customers of an airport are the airlines that may be attracted to use it not the passengers. It is for the airlines to attract the passengers. Airlines will put their business where they feel they can make the most profit or attract the biggest opportunity to do so. Cardiff is and always has been marginally located with poor access and that has not changed since my days arranging flights from there over 40 years ago. There are many airfields that are making good profits and if Cardiff wants to improve in this regard the best way is to attract other businesses that contribute to the bottom line in ways other than passenger flights. 25 years ago I was managing director of an airline based at Cardiff, although I have been retired ever since the problems seem exactly the same today as they did then and I don't see any signs of them changing.
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 20:11
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Originally Posted by MidlandsWanderer
I can tell you exactly what the likes of Rigby and LPL do, they talk to airlines. To be more specific they don't just talk to airlines, they present well-researched business cases with facts that can be backed up. They tell you what businesses are travelling and where to and how often and sometimes even what they are currently paying to go via points a/b/c. Then they offer you a good proposition to help with the start-up phase of operations. It's a fairly well-worn, successful formula but it needs a substantial amount of focussed legwork by the airport.
Exactly, so already, a couple of areas identified that management can do to influence outcomes. Not saying Cardiff not attempting to do any of these things but obviously theyíre not proving to be very good at it.

Not saying there are not challenges (access, location, competition etc) but they were all there with 2m plus pax through the doors. Yes, the world has changed and so that means the approach needs to change too. We should be seeing higher numbers than in 1994 - period.
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 20:23
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Originally Posted by TOM100
Exactly, so already, a couple of areas identified that management can do to influence outcomes. Not saying Cardiff not attempting to do any of these things but obviously theyíre not proving to be very good at it.

Not saying there are not challenges (access, location, competition etc) but they were all there with 2m plus pax through the doors. Yes, the world has changed and so that means the approach needs to change too. We should be seeing higher numbers than in 1994 - period.
Youre comparing to a time when there were far more airlines around. When CWL had Bmibaby as a base, they no longer exist. Flybe gone, Thomas Cook gone, go further back and recall all the tour operators that would have filled aircraft to all sorts of Med destinations and beyond without even having to base an aircraft. All gone!

Whilst the overall market has grown, itís done so with fewer airlines who pool their resources at a limited number of airports to maximise profit and minimise overheads as much as possible. CWL is as much a victim of this as many other regional airports whose location doesnít lend itself to volume so much as the competition.

I donít know what you expect Ďmanagementí to do about this? Theyíre clearly trying, as evidenced by the recent Wizzair base that lasted all of 5 minutes, and Flybe before that with their loss leading e-jet operation.

Jet2 went in to Bournemouth because itís the last unserved part of the U.K. and they canít get in to LGW in any sizeable way. You cannot compare the plight of CWL with the success of LPL and BOH. Donít forget that SOU has lost out to the news tooÖ
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 21:05
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Originally Posted by pug
Youre comparing to a time when there were far more airlines around. When CWL had Bmibaby as a base, they no longer exist. Flybe gone, Thomas Cook gone, go further back and recall all the tour operators that would have filled aircraft to all sorts of Med destinations and beyond without even having to base an aircraft. All gone!

Whilst the overall market has grown, itís done so with fewer airlines who pool their resources at a limited number of airports to maximise profit and minimise overheads as much as possible. CWL is as much a victim of this as many other regional airports whose location doesnít lend itself to volume so much as the competition.

I donít know what you expect Ďmanagementí to do about this? Theyíre clearly trying, as evidenced by the recent Wizzair base that lasted all of 5 minutes, and Flybe before that with their loss leading e-jet operation.

Jet2 went in to Bournemouth because itís the last unserved part of the U.K. and they canít get in to LGW in any sizeable way. You cannot compare the plight of CWL with the success of LPL and BOH. Donít forget that SOU has lost out to the news tooÖ
Agree but all that poor fortune and airlines demise did not only affect CWL. SOU is still carrying more pax than it did in 1990ís and with a short restricted runway and limited opening hours, parking - none of which affect CWL. BOH was likely to overtake CWL even before LS.

What o o I expect management to do? Better tbh and in my opinion. When did you last hear from their Chatman, Wayne ? Roger Lewis (previous) was frequently in the press talking up the airport, leading negotiations with QR etc. I am not saying they are not Ďtryingí just they havenít been very successful at it vis a vis other airports (the stats tell you this) and maybe somebody else could make a better shot at it.

obviously a lot of people think they are doing a sterling job at this and they are just a victim of circumstance - Iím just glad I donít run my business in the same way.

Point I was making about 2m+ pax is that people will use the place.

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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 21:43
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Originally Posted by TOM100
Agree but all that poor fortune and airlines demise did not only affect CWL. SOU is still carrying more pax than it did in 1990ís and with a short restricted runway and limited opening hours, parking - none of which affect CWL. BOH was likely to overtake CWL even before LS.

What o o I expect management to do? Better tbh and in my opinion. When did you last hear from their Chatman, Wayne ? Roger Lewis (previous) was frequently in the press talking up the airport, leading negotiations with QR etc. I am not saying they are not Ďtryingí just they havenít been very successful at it vis a vis other airports (the stats tell you this) and maybe somebody else could make a better shot at it.

obviously a lot of people think they are doing a sterling job at this and they are just a victim of circumstance - Iím just glad I donít run my business in the same way.

Point I was making about 2m+ pax is that people will use the place.
No it didnít only affect CWL, I made that very point in my last post. MME was handling just shy of 1mppa at its peak, itís now at around 25% peak value. HUY almost 600,000 and now lucky if it passes 150,000. Some airports have now gone because they couldnít sustain operations after the low cost boom matured and got comfortable in its main operating bases.

SOU is operating way below peak value after Flybe went to the wall. Itís picking up some easyjet traffic but it wonít be enough at the moment to recover its momentum.

CWL hasnít got Easyjet, Jet2 or significant Ryanair ops because they all fly from BRS which is nearby. So even though it did at one time handle 2mppa it wonít now because there are not the number of airlines there were to go around. So again, I ask you what you think Ďmanagementí should be doing about it? Itís fine saying to offer route incentives but if theyíve already been offered and the routes donít last, how do you justify a continued spend on something that continues to fail? Diversification of aviation revenue is key, as alluded to by another member unthread.
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 22:16
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Originally Posted by pug
No it didnít only affect CWL, I made that very point in my last post. MME was handling just shy of 1mppa at its peak, itís now at around 25% peak value. HUY almost 600,000 and now lucky if it passes 150,000. Some airports have now gone because they couldnít sustain operations after the low cost boom matured and got comfortable in its main operating bases.

SOU is operating way below peak value after Flybe went to the wall. Itís picking up some easyjet traffic but it wonít be enough at the moment to recover its momentum.

CWL hasnít got Easyjet, Jet2 or significant Ryanair ops because they all fly from BRS which is nearby. So even though it did at one time handle 2mppa it wonít now because there are not the number of airlines there were to go around. So again, I ask you what you think Ďmanagementí should be doing about it? Itís fine saying to offer route incentives but if theyíve already been offered and the routes donít last, how do you justify a continued spend on something that continues to fail? Diversification of aviation revenue is key, as alluded to by another member unthread.
I respectfully donít agree with all your points and donít think HuY and MME are great comparisons. I am sure we will not agree.

CWL has survived as a result of the Welsh taxpayer, which I agree with - Wales should have a national airport.

But taking your point about diversification- can you tell me what success the current team has had since the pandemic in non aviation revenue or what is on the horizon or what the current strategy is ?

The number of airlines is not relevant - those that remain are bigger and as I pointed out this impacts every other airport as does competition.

if 2m were prepared to use the airport before why wouldnít they again ?
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 22:18
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Originally Posted by SWBKCB
Absolutely - the easy option.
But look at TOM - expanding elsewhere but not at CWL, RYR - expanding elsewhere but not at CWL. What does that tell you? Maybe there is somenthing more fundamentally wrong than the social media strategy etc. Local economy, small/restricted catchement area, etc
TOM is up to 3 based summer aircraft, some W patterns and using other carriers. They have filled the gap left by TCX, so i'd say that is expansion.
Ryanair are now operating DUB, AGP, ALC and TFS, with the latter two starting this summer. Not exactly huge expansion, but still expansion. FR swap capacity around all the time. If these routes make money then hopefully there will be more from them to replace the lost Wizz capacity.

Carrrdiff - Well you just gave one example of what management can do - what did the management at BOH and EXT do ? What did LPL do ? Same airlines, same competitive industry with nearby airports. Thatís my point again other smaller regional airports are being successful and they donít have such benign owners (their owners are looking for returns).
They negotiated. I'm not sure what your point regarding EXT is alluding too, as TOM have a much bigger operation at CWL than EXT.
CWL have been trying to get Jet2 in for years. There is a slight overlap in catchment of BOH and BRS, where BRS pretty much caters for the whole South Wales market. If you were an Airline manager, which would you pick?
The same goes for LPL, much bigger catchment.

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I can tell you exactly what the likes of Rigby and LPL do, they talk to airlines. To be more specific they don't just talk to airlines, they present well-researched business cases with facts that can be backed up. They tell you what businesses are travelling and where to and how often and sometimes even what they are currently paying to go via points a/b/c. Then they offer you a good proposition to help with the start-up phase of operations. It's a fairly well-worn, successful formula but it needs a substantial amount of focussed legwork by the airport.
Surely this is exactly what CWL did to get Vueling, Qatar, Flybe and Wizz in? They effectively paid Flybe to fly from CWL to eradicate the hefty cost of the E95's. Vueling had a huge 10 year marketing budget. What happened when that 10 years was up? Start to see VY cut flights.
CWL is under a lot of scrutiny of it's spending as it's Welsh Government owned, so I doubt as much money is there as would be from private owners.

​​​​​​​
The purpose of marketing an airport is to attract its customers. The customers of an airport are the airlines that may be attracted to use it not the passengers. It is for the airlines to attract the passengers. Airlines will put their business where they feel they can make the most profit or attract the biggest opportunity to do so.
Tosh. It's in the Airports own interest to get passengers through the door. How often do you see adverts from Ryanair? They almost market themselves just in name because of their popularity. The marketing that's needed is for people to know they fly from Cardiff, which many probably don't.
There's a Facebook Cardiff Flights and Deals page that has over 50k followers, 20k more than CWL's own page and regularly posts flights and deals which get many likes, and tags, and tags of tags. That's how word spreads, and it's pretty much free.


The issue isn't that the demand isn't there. The issue is that many of that demand choose BRS as their primary choice, even when those destinations are available from CWL.
Pre-pandemic that was changing and things were on the up. 1.6m annual passengers if i remember correctly.

You can throw as much money at Airlines as you like, but when you're left with a much smaller pool of Airlines to choose from, many of which already have commitments at BRS, it isn't going to be easy. BRS is a much bigger catchment, and if Airlines know Welsh people will travel to BRS, why dilute that? It will be a huge struggle to convince Airlines otherwise. To convince FR of that, it's going to mean bums on seats of the flights they do currently offer.

There's probably a lot of background work going on. But CWL has been very quiet of late, there needs to be a lot more open discussion, marketing and engagement with passengers going on to get things back to pre-pandemic levels and hopefully top 2m again. FR is probably the last option to help with that.
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Old 3rd Apr 2024, 22:32
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Originally Posted by TOM100
I respectfully donít agree with all your points and donít think HuY and MME are great comparisons. I am sure we will not agree.

CWL has survived as a result of the Welsh taxpayer, which I agree with - Wales should have a national airport.

But taking your point about diversification- can you tell me what success the current team has had since the pandemic in non aviation revenue or what is on the horizon or what the current strategy is ?

The number of airlines is not relevant - those that remain are bigger and as I pointed out this impacts every other airport as does competition.

if 2m were prepared to use the airport before why wouldnít they again ?
Why are HUY, NME and letís not forget SOU (which you now neglect to mention) poor comparisons? SEN too?

How is the number of airlines not relevant? It is directly relevant and is why all examples Iíve just provided have lost market share to other airports. Why? Because most airlines have chosen to consolidate at fewer, larger departure points. That is why, even though more passengers are travelling now than 20 years ago, theyíre flying with a smaller number of airlines and those airlines have chosen not to fly from CWL but BRS and cannot justify flying from both.

You can of course choose to disagree if you wish, but Iím offering empirical evidence and you appear stuck in a mindset not fitting of todayís operating environment. I suggest to you therefore that what CWL needs in order to grow in the way you appear to be championing, is new airlines entering the U.K. market, not a better management team at the airport.

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