Cardiff Airport has announced that Doha-based carrier Qatar Airways will launch a new UK service to Doha from the Welsh city. The flights are due to start in 2018 and information regarding flight scheduling and aircraft types have yet to be announced.
The new route will operate from Hamad International Airport, Doha’s newest and largest international airport. Since its opening in 2014, it has averaged a sufficient number of 30 million passengers using the airport per year.
This new route will connect Cardiff Airport to 150 destinations across six continents from Doha itself to destinations such as Australia, UAE, Thailand, India, Hong Kong, South Africa, and China.
Deb Barber, CEO at Cardiff Airport said; “I am immensely proud that Qatar Airways has chosen Cardiff Airport to operate its new service to Doha. It is fantastic that we will now be able to offer our customers more choice of travel with a world-class airline providing easy connections to destinations across the world. More than one million passengers per year from our region are travelling to destinations that are on the Qatar Airways network. Over 90% of these passengers are currently travelling via London and this new service will give them the opportunity to fly more conveniently from Cardiff, their local airport.”
The airport emphasized how key this relationship is on a bi-lateral basis as over one million passengers from the Cardiff area travel within the Qatar Airways network from London Heathrow and Manchester. This service will enhance connectivity for leisure and business travelers from Cardiff and will provide easy accessibility to the network portfolio that Qatar currently hosts.
Although the aircraft type has not been revealed as of yet, the most viable option at the moment, based on Cardiff Airport’s operating accommodations could be either the Airbus A330 or the Boeing 777 aircraft respectively, depending on how much demand the airline sees on the route when tickets go on sale.
If well-demanded, the Airbus A350-900XWB could also make an appearance at the airport, which would highlight strong growth on the new route.
“It has been a long journey to get to this stage, with discussions spanning a number of years. Over the coming months, we will work with the team at Qatar Airways to confirm the details of the service and look forward to the flights being on sale in the near future,” Barber added in a statement.
The introduction of this new service could mean substantial growth for Cardiff in terms of exporting overseas as there will be plenty of cargo room to be used on exported goods. 2016 saw Welsh exports to Asia/Oceania be valued at over £1bn alone with exports to North Africa and the Middle East being valued at £281m and Qatar exports at £25m accordingly.
So if the passenger perspective doesn’t really take-off, the cargo side has a good chance of soaring to success.
In terms of competition, given how domestically-based Cardiff Airport has remained over recent years, there is currently no direct competition going to the Middle East region. However, given this move from Qatar Airways, it will be interesting to see whether other carriers such as Emirates and Etihad will consider looking into a flight to Cardiff or whether it is just a niche that Qatar aims to solely serve.
Cardiff could be used as a gateway airport to other airports across the world. For example, Singapore Airlines currently operate their Airbus A350 aircraft from Singapore to Houston via Manchester. Could this end up the same but in Qatar’s perspective or for any other carrier for that matter? It could be something worth considering, looking more into the long-term.
Although it appears to be one of the most peculiar routes in Qatar’s portfolio, it seems like Qatar has done their homework in picking its newest UK destination due to the high level of passengers that travel with the carrier from Cardiff via Heathrow and Manchester. The indicator of demand will be through the usage of aircraft. Only time will tell whether this route will be a success for the airline, but it will be a success for Cardiff Airport and the local communities around it.
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