UK air traffic management company NATS has taken over tower operations at St Athan Airfield in Wales earlier this month.

After over 80 years as an RAF base, St Athan Airfield was converted into a civil aerodrome last year and is owned by the Government of Wales and operated by Cardiff Airport.

Effective from 1 April, NATS became responsible for the tower and air traffic engineering teams, combining this with the other 13 airports in the UK where it manages air traffic.

Cardiff Airport operations director Ceri Mashlan said: “Whilst these are difficult times, we are really pleased to welcome NATS to the St Athan Airfield as part of their ten-year contact with Cardiff Airport.

“St Athan is key to our diverse airport business, and we are delighted that NATS will be providing their operational excellence and expertise to both our passenger operation and now the St Athan aerodrome.”

St Athan is used by the University of Wales Air Squadron and flying Air Training Corps cadets. It is also used as a training school and for carrying out different aircraft engineering and maintenance services.

NATS commercial director Guy Adams said: “These may be challenging times for the aviation industry, but we are absolutely delighted to be welcoming the St Athan tower and engineering teams into the NATS family and to be working with Cardiff Airport and the Welsh Government to support their aspirations for the airport going forward.”

The St Athan operation will be overseen by the NATS Cardiff Airport & Aberporth Ranges general manager Aidan Cottee.

Cottee added: “We’ve been working towards this transition for several months and it’s clear to me that the team of controllers and engineers are all dedicated professionals committed to offering pilots the best possible service.”

Last July, NATS won a ten-year contract to provide services and expertise to Cardiff Airport, which included the services for St Athan.