The history of the airport extends back to the1942 when the Air Ministry requisitioned land for training Spitfire pilots. After WW2 the airfield was abandoned. The man who decided Rhoose could be the site of a new airport was David Rees-Williams (later Lord Ogmore). In1945 Rees-Williams became an MP; then when Minister of Aviation he identified a great need for a commercial Airport of international standards in south Wales. He told the House of Lords that a decision had to be taken whether to do nothing at all or whether Pengam Moors, the existing airport for Cardiff, should be improved or, thirdly, whether a new airport should be constructed.

Subsequently the Welsh Civil Aviation Consultative Committee proposed the Royal Air Force airfield at Rhoose. The Government accepted this proposal and the Ministry of Aviation promptly began converting the abandoned airfield into a civilian Airport.


Opening of new airport. In October 1952 the new airport was opened. Then civilian flights from the old Cardiff Municipal Airport at Pengam Moors were transferred to Rhoose in April 1954. In 1965 the Ministry of Aviation handed over the airport to Glamorgan County Council and was renamed Glamorgan (Rhoose) Airport. The council started a five-year plan to develop the airport including a new control tower, terminal building and runway extension.

1986 saw a further extension to the runway, attracting more business in the form of new-generation jet aircraft. The runway extension enabled the airport to handle 747 jumbo jets. This was instrumental in attracting the British Airways Maintenance facility to the airport. The airport is not only the main maintenance base for British Airways but also home to a variety of aerospace-oriented firms and colleges, and now is a major contributor to the economic development of the region.

The airport was privatised in1995 due to local authority re-organization. Later in 2013 the Welsh Government bought it for £52 million. There followed an investment of a £6 million route-development programme. In 2015 a major deal was signed with Flybe which saw the opening of a two aircraft base for their airline with a considerable number of new routes. In April 2017, Qatar Airways announced their plans to launch a service from Cardiff airport to Qatar and significant global markets via Qatar’s capital city in May 2018. This development is considered a game changer for the airport’s future.