Qatar Airways (QA) will launch direct daily flights to Cardiff from May 1, 2018, making the award-winning airline the first Gulf carrier to service Wales and southwest England.
In a statement, QA cited Cardiff as “a strategically important destination,” opening up a new portion of the UK to the airline. The new route will also allow more people to visit Cardiff from the Gulf and beyond.
Cardiff, the capital of Wales, is one of the most compelling tourist destinations in the UK, with countless museums and exhibitions, a thriving music scene and world-class sporting events regularly on show at the Principality Stadium.
“Many travellers currently fly to and from London using ground transport between London and Cardiff, and the launch of direct service will allow passengers to fly directly from Wales and the southwest to Doha and beyond for the first time,” QA Group chief executive Akbar al-Baker said.
Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, said the daily service between Cardiff and Doha is a huge boost for Wales, which will open up its links with the rest of the world and deliver new economic, leisure and travel opportunities for Welsh businesses and the people of Wales.
He noted that providing a direct route into the world’s fastest growing global hub, Hamad International Airport, will also bring Wales closer to leading global markets such as India, China, Singapore and Australasia.
Cardiff Airport CEO Deb 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,” she noted.
More than 1.4mn passengers annually from the region travel to destinations that are available on the QA network, according to Barber.
“Some 90% of these passengers are currently travelling from London airports, which emphasises just how much demand exists within the market,” she said.
Travellers to and from Australia and Southeast Asia are also set to benefit from the daily long-haul flights via Doha.
The new service between Doha and Cardiff will be served by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with 22 seats in Business Class, offering passengers direct aisle access with its 1-2-1 configuration, and 232 seats in Economy Class.
Onboard the QA Boeing 787 Dreamliner, lower altitude-equivalent pressure, improved air-quality and optimal humidity coupled with large, electronically dimmable windows create dramatic vistas and provide passengers with extra natural light.
Full-spectrum LED lighting will help them adjust to changing time zones, allowing passengers to arrive at their destination feeling refreshed.
Cardiff is one of 26 new routes announced by Qatar Airways planned for the remainder of this year and 2018, including Chiang Mai, Thailand; Canberra, Australia and San Francisco, and US, among others.
QA currently serves London Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh, with Cardiff to be the airline's fifth destination in the UK.
QR 321: Doha (DOH) to Cardiff (CWL), departs 7:25am and arrives 12:50pm (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat)
QR 322: Cardiff to Doha, departs 3:55pm and arrives 12:50am (+1) (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat)
QR 323: Doha to Cardiff, departs 1:15am and arrives 6:40am (Tue, Thu, Sun)
QR 324: Cardiff to Doha, departs 8:10am and arrives 5:05pm (Tue, Thu, Sun).