A budget airline has announced it will be cancelling most of its winter flights from Cardiff Airport due to “economic pressures”.
Wizz Air is to suspend journeys to nine popular destinations from September 19, saying the routes are not commercially viable.
The airline is no longer offering tickets to Alicante, Corfu, Heraklion, Faro, Larnaca, Lanzarote, Palma de Mallorca, Sharm el-Sheikh or Tenerife.
Its bosses said the decision was made to minimise disruption to passengers, who will be informed by email if they are affected.
Ticket-holders will be offered options to either rebook to take their trip this year as planned but from London Gatwick or Luton Airport, or book comparable flights to go next summer from Cardiff.
People will also be offered either a full cash refund or 120% of their ticket cost in airline credit.
Flights to Milan, Italy, and Romanian capital Bucharest will still operate over the winter months, Wizz Air confirmed. Tickets to those destinations are being offered from October.
However, all other links will be cancelled until April 2023 when the airline said it intends to then increase operations from Cardiff.
Its staff at Wales’s only international airport will be offered opportunities at other UK airports over the winter to return in the spring.
Managing director of Wizz Air UK Marion Geoffrey said: “We are very disappointed to have to suspend several routes from Cardiff Airport for the winter season.
“Though these routes have proved popular through the summer season, it would not be commercially viable to continue to operate them through this coming winter due to the challenging macro-economic environment.
“This leaves us with no option but to pause these routes until next spring.
“We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience this will cause customers who already booked flights with us. We are in touch with all affected customers to explain their options.
“It takes time to build up sustainable operations at any base and we are prepared to build up operations at Cardiff over the long term.”
The company set up a new base at Cardiff Airport in December 2020, creating 40 new jobs, with the aim of increasing the airport’s yearly seat capacity by 350,000.
However it reported growing losses of £381 million in the first quarter of this year, which it said was down to the effect of fuel costs and recent airport disruption.
It said rising demand and ticket prices should ensure a “material operating profit” in the second quarter.
Cardiff Airport has been owned by the Welsh Government since March 2013.
Welsh Government minister Julie James said: “Whilst this is unfortunate timing, the airport board remains positive about its recovery from the pandemic as there continues to be significant demand for travel this year.
“My officials will continue to maintain a close and open dialogue with the airport board and despite this announcement I remain positive for the airport’s recovery and eventual growth.”
Welsh Conservative shadow minister for transport Natasha Asghar said: “This is incredibly disappointing news for Cardiff Airport, which has already seen falling passenger numbers and continues to make a loss.
“Wales needs an airport that will attract airlines in order to boost the economy and show Wales off to the world.
“Labour ministers need to monitor the situation and provide urgent clarity as to when the services will resume and what alternative routes are being planned from other airlines.”
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