10 February

Debra Barber announced as Airport Chief Executive

Cardiff Airport has today announced the promotion of Debra Barber to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) responsible for delivering the Company’s ambitious strategy for long term, sustainable growth for the Airport business, generating significant economic benefit for Wales.  

The Airport Board has huge ambition for the growth of the business and this appointment will see Debra lead the Airport team through the development and delivery of the Airport’s strategic business plan and upcoming Master Plan.  In parallel to Debra’s promotion to CEO, there are recruitment processes in place to secure an additional member of the Executive team, responsible for Airport development and planning, and a Non-executive director with specialist aviation experience. These appointments will add additional expertise to the already strong management team and are further evidence of the growing strength of the Airport Company.

Under Debra’s leadership there have been significant improvements and changes to the airport’s infrastructure and customer experience. These have included investment in safety and security equipment including new fire appliances and baggage handling systems; new airlines and routes including the new Flybe base (launching new services to Verona, Berlin and London City in 2016) and growth of Spanish low cost carrier Vueling; significant improvements in the terminal’s facilities including new security area and departure lounge plus a focus on environmental sustainability which saw Cardiff Airport named as the Airport’s Operator Association’s winner of Best Environmental Initiative in 2015.  2016 also saw Cardiff named as the fastest growing UK airport that regularly handles over 1milion passengers annually. The Company also underwent a major structural change with the insourcing of the majority of the Airport’s support services and a 6-fold increase in the numbers directly employed by the Airport.

2017 has started positively with the announcement of 10% passenger growth for the month of January versus the same month in 2016. The rolling twelve months have seen an additional 178,000 passengers travelling through Cardiff representing 15% growth for the period.

The year is set to see continued growth with a number of new airlines and route launches. Iberia Express joins as a new airline with the introduction of new flights to Madrid;

New airline Blue Islands announced a new service to Guernsey for the summer season; Flybe will begin operating a new service to Rome and Ryanair will begin operating a new Faro service both from March.  The Airport is also working closely with ‘Team Wales’ to deliver a safe and successful UEFA Champions League Final in Cardiff in June.

Roger Lewis, Chairman of Cardiff Airport, said: "I am delighted that we announce today Debra Barber as CEO of Cardiff Airport. This appointment recognises the outstanding results Debra has delivered since becoming Managing Director in 2015 and on behalf of the Board I thank Debra and her colleagues for all they have done.

“We are hugely ambitious for Cardiff Airport and we have a significant strategy for growth. Over the course of the coming months the Board will make further announcements on how we are strengthening our teams to ensure we continue to deliver the best possible airport for our passengers."

Debra Barber, Chief Executive Officer of Cardiff Airport, added: “This is a hugely exciting time for our national airport. There have been many positive developments over the last couple of years but, of course, we acknowledge that there is a still a lot to do. I would like to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge the dedication and hard work of the entire Airport team for striving tirelessly to set Cardiff Airport back onto its right path.

“The business is growing stronger and we are well positioned to deliver on our vision and mission generating significant economic benefit to Wales. Our successes to date have been very positive and I’m delighted to continue leading the team into what is proving to be an exciting next chapter.”

Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, said:

“The appointment of Debra Barber as CEO for Cardiff Airport is testament to her achievements to date and will enable the Airport to build on it’s long term vision for continued growth and success.

“The delivery and development of a strategic business plan will build on the airport’s incredibly healthy foundations, an important stage in the progression of one of the fastest growing airports in the UK.  I look forward to working with Debra, Roger and others to ensure our national airport continues to flourish.”

Debra Barber FRAeS MIoD: Biography

Debra retired from her role as Group Captain within the Royal Air Force in 2012 after a successful 28 year career, during which time she headed up the Air Traffic Control operation and was held in high regard as one of the RAF’s notable senior female officers.

She joined Cardiff Airport as Operations Director in May 2012 where she held the position until September 2014, before stepping in as Interim Managing Director for just over one year. In December 2015 Debra was announced as Cardiff Airport’s Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer.

Debra is a member of the Board of the Airport Operators’ Association, Vice Chair of the Regional and Business Airports Group (RABA); Councillor of CBI in Wales; a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a Member of the Institute of Directors.

Vueling