The Welsh Government is looking for new operators for the Anglesey – Cardiff air link.
The subsidised twice-daily service from the island to Cardiff Airport has been run by Eastern Airways on a rolling contract, following the collapse of CityWing in March last year.
A new four-year contract is now being put out to tender, following a delay while the Welsh Government looked into whether the air link’s capacity could be increased.
Last month, officials told the Assembly’s public accounts committee that permission to relax security regulations at RAF Valley had been refused by the UK Government.
Eastern Airways, based in Lincolnshire, say the number of passengers on the route is up 40% from the year before.
Last year, First Minister Carwyn Jones announced the service would continue following a review, but opposition parties have called for the airlink – which receives £1.2 million of annual public funding – to be scrapped.
Transport Secretary Ken Skates said he was aiming to further develop the growth of the airlink: ”We are looking to secure a reliable, experienced, established operator who shares our ambition to grow and develop the Cardiff to Anglesey route including working with us on options to move to a larger aircraft and to deliver improved connectivity for north Wales.”
The Welsh Government says the new operator will be encouraged to use strategic pricing and marketing to attract more passengers, support the tourism sector and improve access to the North West. They must also comply with Civil Aviation regulations for disabled people.
When CityWing fell into liquidation in March 2017, its Czech operator VanAir had permission to fly in the UK suspended for safety reasons. The air operators licence of Links Air lost its safety licence in 2015.
The tender for the new contract has been published on the Welsh Government’s Sell2Wales website.