9 December

Debra Barber announced as Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer

Cardiff Airport has today announced the appointment of Debra Barber as Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, responsible for directing and controlling operations and optimising a sustainable Airport for Wales.


In this role, Ms Barber will lead the Airport team in managing the business and will oversee the development and delivery of the Airport’s business plan. 

Ms Barber has been in post as interim Managing Director since September 2014 having joined Cardiff Airport as Operations Director in May 2012 following a successful career with the Royal Air Force. Having joined the military in 1984, she spent the first ten years working in and around RAF airfields as an Air Traffic Controller before retiring as Group Captain and Air Traffic Management Force Commander, responsible for all RAF air traffic units in the UK and around the world after 28 years’ service.

During her time as interim Managing Director the Airport has seen a significant growth in passenger numbers, a new airline base, new services and successful delivery of major events plus further improvements to the terminal and airfield operations.

The year has seen the arrival of the new two aircraft Flybe base in June, now operating 14 routes across the UK and Europe.  Vueling added extra services to Spain for 2015 and 2016 and have recently celebrated the 300,000th passenger to travel with the airline from Cardiff.  Thomson has also announced a cruise flight direct from Cardiff to Dubai for winter 2016 as part of its new programme in the region.

Passenger numbers are currently +10% for the rolling year to the end of November 2015 at 1,139,567. November figures are +33% compared to November 2014 which follows a record breaking October with passenger numbers being +62% year on year.  Growth is due to the success of the new Flybe base plus strong load factors for airlines including KLM, Vueling, Aer Lingus and Thomson.

The Airport has played a significant role in two major events in the region, contributing to the successful NATO Wales Summit by welcoming 17 Heads of State and 28 Senior Ministers to Wales followed by the Rugby World Cup which attracted over 30,000 additional passengers to the Airport.

In addition, Cardiff Airport has maintained a focus on environmental sustainability and made significant progress towards best practice, achieving recognition as a ‘100% landfill divert’ business and has attained the Seren Scheme BS8555 accreditation. Most recently, Cardiff Airport won the Environmental Initiative award at the Airport Operators Association Awards Ceremony.


Announcing the appointment Roger Lewis, Chairman of Cardiff Airport said, “I am delighted to announce Debra’s role to lead the team during the next stage of the Airport’s development. Debra’s significant aviation experience, coupled with hands on leadership during the past 15 months puts her in an ideal position for this role. 

“We aim to develop a sustainable Airport for Wales, recognising the vital role it plays in the Welsh economy as the national Airport.  The life blood of the Airport remains passenger numbers and we are focused on the challenging task of winning new airlines and services to provide more choice of routes for travel to and from Wales.”

Commenting on her appointment Debra Barber said, “I am extremely pleased to continue leading the Airport during this exciting stage. We have achieved a great amount already but recognise there is still much work to be done to ensure we have an Airport we can all be proud of.   

“We are focussed on ensuring Cardiff is the Airport of choice for Wales, whether for Welsh travellers or those visiting Wales for business or pleasure.  As we progress towards 2016 we look forward to further improvements to the Airport experience for customers plus a continued growth in passenger numbers.”