Environmental campaigners have raised concerns that the return of domestic flights between Wales and Scotland will harm efforts to reduce the country’s carbon emissions.

Yesterday, Loganair announced it will run flights from Cardiff to Edinburgh five times a week, with the first flight between the cities leaving Edinburgh at 2:30pm on Monday.

Flights between the cities ended in March last year when Flybe collapsed.

Loganair says it intends to ‘fill the gap’ left in the market.

The news was welcomed by champions of Cardiff Airport, which has suffered financially as a result of the pandemic and the downturn in travel.

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies, who is also a councillor for Rhoose, said: “I was deeply concerned last March when Flybe entered administration.

“Flybe accounted for a large number of flights operating out of Cardiff Airport, and the taxpayer had given significant amounts of financial support over a number of years only for there to be nothing to show for it.

“I’m therefore thrilled to see Loganair flights getting wheels off the ground today. This is promising news for Cardiff Airport and the taxpayer, but there is still a lot of work to be done to build passenger numbers at the airport.”

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Not everybody is happy, however.

Friends of the Earth Cymru spokesperson, Bleddyn Lake, said: “It is profoundly depressing to see news of the new flight route between Cardiff and Edinburgh.

“Ever increasingly, we are seeing horrendous natural disasters or weather phenomena from around the world, which are becoming more frequent and severe because of climate change.

“We all know that emissions from aviation contribute to climate change. We also know that we need to significantly reduce emissions between now and 2030 if we are to have any hope whatsoever of preventing catastrophic climate change.

“It seems completely and utterly anachronistic that we now have this new short haul flight route being added into the mix with its associated new emissions.”

In April, French lawmakers have moved to ban short-haul internal flights where train alternatives exist, in a bid to reduce carbon emissions.

Last year, Austrian Airlines replaced a flight route between the cities of Vienna and Salzburg with an increased train service.

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They are examples that Mr Lake believes the Government should be following.

“Countries such as France and Austria have started to restrict internal flights where alternative transport options such as trains are available. This is sensible and not before time,” he continued.

“We need to follow suit in the UK and that means there should be no option for this sort of new short haul route and it also means we should stop subsidising the north south air link here in Wales too.

“To think we can keep on increasing air travel while at the same time tackling climate change is just a pure flight of fancy.”

Anthony Slaughter, leader of the Green Party in Wales, also voiced his concerns in the wake of the announcement.

Mr Slaughter tweeted: “In the year that the UK is hosting COP26 in Glasgow, we have news items promoting the expansion of short haul flights with no mention of the climate crisis.

“Business as usual is a betrayal of future generations.”

Despite the criticism, the Welsh Government has said it is committed to maintaining aviation capacity in Wales.

The introduction of Loganair suggest domestic flights are part of those plans.

A spokesperson for the Government said: “We are committed to maintaining an aviation capacity in Wales, because of the benefits that it brings to the Welsh economy as a whole, whilst recognising the challenges this creates for meeting our targets on decarbonisation.”

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