QATAR FLIGHTS GET READY FOR TAKE-OFF
THE first direct scheduled air service from Cardiff Airport to the Middle East will launch next spring, it was revealed yesterday.
Qatar Airways said its new sevendaysa-week service from Wales to Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, will make its inaugural flight on May 1.
It will be operated on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which will be able to fly 254 passengers, of which 22 seats will be business class. Tickets for the flights, which will take around five-and-a-half hours, are now on sale.
The Cardiff service will be the first regular direct long-haul flight linking Wales and south-west England to a major global hub in the Gulf region seven days a week.
The route is expected to add more than 100,000 new passengers a year to Cardiff Airport, which is owned by the Welsh Government.
Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker said: “We are delighted to announce the launch date for our direct service to Cardiff.
“Many travellers currently fly to and from London, using ground transport between London and Cardiff, so this new route will allow passengers to fly direct from Wales to Doha and beyond for the first time.”
Chief executive of Cardiff Airport Debra Barber said: “I am immensely proud that world-class airline Qatar Airways has recognised the potential that exists within the region and chosen Cardiff Airport to operate a daily service.
“The service opens up a world of connectivity for our customers to destinations across Australia, New Zealand, Africa and Asia.
“Over 1.4 million passengers per year from the region travel to destinations that are available on the Qatar Airways network – 90% of these passengers are currently travelling from London airports, which emphasises just how much demand exists within the market.
“We look forward to developing our fruitful relationship with Qatar Airways over the coming months and to the start of this exciting new route in May 2018.”
Cardiff Airport chairman Roger Lewis said: “This is a pivotal moment for Cardiff Airport. The far reaching consequences of this service for passengers and businesses across Wales and the south-west of England will be transformational.
“Cardiff Airport will now provide the only daily scheduled direct flight to the Gulf in the south-west of the UK. This is very special indeed for us all.
“On a personal note, I thank the Welsh Government for their support over the past two-and-half years, and the British Ambassador to Qatar, His Excellency, Ajay Sharma and his exceptional staff for their outstanding support without which we would not have achieved this success.
“I am totally confident that the dedicated and hardworking team at Cardiff Airport will deliver a worldclass service with Qatar Airways for passengers and businesses visiting Wales and travelling across the world.
“The critically important relationship between Qatar, Wales and the United Kingdom is substantially strengthened today.”
First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “The daily service between Cardiff and Doha is a huge boost for Wales.
“It will open up Wales’ links with the rest of the world and deliver new economic, leisure and travel opportunities for Welsh businesses and the people of Wales.
“Providing a direct route into the world’s fastest growing hub airport, Hamad International, will also bring Wales closer to leading global markets such as India, China, Singapore and Australasia.”
Qatar Airways will be flying from Cardiff Airport to Doha in Qatar seven days a week from May 1 next year