Heathrow to Wales flights 'could bid for funds'
Airlines wanting to fly from Wales to Heathrow will be able to bid for a share of a proposed ?10m route fund, the Welsh Government has said.
Ministers and Heathrow have signed a "strategic partnership" agreement to identify business opportunities from the planned third runway.
As part of that, the Welsh Government confirmed airlines wanting to run a route could bid for the fund.
But the Welsh Conservatives said the deal had no "tangible commitments".
It comes after the Welsh Government was criticised by Plaid Cymru last year after supporting the third runway project without getting anything back in return and after the Scottish Government had reached a "memorandum of understanding" which included ?200m in construction spending.
The UK government said last October, after years of delay, that building a third runway at Heathrow was its preferred option for expanding airport capacity in the UK.
Under the partnership, Heathrow and the Welsh Government agreed to hold a summit on 5 July in Cardiff to help Welsh businesses seek contracts at the airport.
The Welsh Government also said that airlines wishing to operate a route from Wales to Heathrow would be eligible to bid for a proposed ?10m Heathrow Route Development fund.
The fund is due to be available for five domestic routes and is due to start from 2021.
First Minister Carwyn Jones, said the partnership "opens the door to explore a wide range of new opportunities, particularly for our existing supply chain companies that have the experience and expertise to support infrastructure projects at Heathrow".
But Andrew RT Davies, the Welsh Conservative leader, said the announcement "is a case of the Welsh Labour Government joining the party after last orders with no strong and tangible commitments like those secured by counterparts in Scotland".
Plaid Cymru's transport spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards, said: "Heathrow should be congratulated on having superior negotiating skills to the First Minister of Wales."
"The Scottish Government secured a commitment from Heathrow to reduce landing charges for all airlines operating services from Heathrow to Scotland, and a ?200m commitment on construction related spend in Scotland. No such commitments for Wales," he said.
Cardiff Airport is keen to explore opportunities with Heathrow after the new runway is operational, chief executive Deb Barber said.
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