The owner of the largest independent agency in Wales is bidding to open up Swansea airport to regional flights.
Martin Morgan, owner of 20-branch The Travel House, has launched a study into the feasibility of developing the terminal and said it was “looking promising”.
Morgan, who is also a director and majority shareholder of Swansea City Football Club, is pulling together a consortium of local organisations, including the university, council, businesses and sports clubs, to support his plans.
He said the group would be “up and running within a few months”.
Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly, Morgan said: “Swansea is the UK’s 25th-largest city. The airport has 300 acres of land, which could be developed. And it has a 1,472-metre runway that could take regional aircraft, yet it doesn’t have any regional flights.
“Any aircraft that flies into London City could fly into Swansea. So we will be approaching the likes of Flybe, for example, which has some smaller aircraft.”
Morgan added: “Norwich, Exeter and Hull all have a regional airport and they are of a similar size to Swansea, so why shouldn’t Swansea have one?”
He said opening up Swansea airport would appeal to sports teams coming to play Premier League team Swansea City FC, and rugby union sides Ospreys and Scarlets.
“Visiting teams have to fly into Cardiff and then it’s more than an hour’s drive to Swansea,” he said.
Asked if turning Swansea into a regional airport would benefit his retail agency chain, Morgan said: “Potentially. If airlines offered flights to Dublin and Amsterdam, there could be some stag and hen party business.”
The airport currently handles only light helicopters, privately owned aircraft and the operations of the local parachute club.
This is Morgan’s second attempt to develop the airport. In 2000, he bought the lease and had ambitious plans to upgrade the facilities, which include a terminal building with seats for just 25 passengers. But he sold the majority of his interest in 2003 to Swansea Airport Limited, owned by Air Wales owner and director Roy Thomas, who was appointed chief executive of the airport company.
Air Wales offered flights to Dublin, Cork, Amsterdam, Jersey and London between October 2001 and October 2004. However, the venture was not successful. There have since been no scheduled flights from the airport.
But Morgan said: “I really believe this time there’s a great opportunity [to turn Swansea into a regional airport]. But I’d rather do it as a consortium of business people as we will have more power together.”
Martin Morgan’s career
• Martin Morgan is a former market stall trader turned multimillionaire businessman.
• Morgan left school at 16 to become a welder. He then started organising bus trips for Swansea City away games.
• He opened his first The Travel House in 1992. By April 1999, The Travel House had 23 shops and a Teletext call centre. In 1999, Thomson Holidays bought Morgan’s business for £40 million.
• In 2000, Morgan bought Swansea airport, later selling the business to Air Wales.
• In 2003-04, he opened two hotels: Morgans, in Swansea, and The Cawdor, in Llandeilo.
• In 2004, Tui sold 21 Travel House shops back to Morgan
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