The Qatar Airways service is Cardiff Airport’s first route from the Middle East, with 150 onward connections from Doha. Links to and from Australia, New Zealand, China, India and Japan will be the most significant markets for Wales’ tourism and business priorities.
The inaugural Qatar Airways flight QR321 left Doha early morning and is expected to arrive in Wales at about 12:50 GMT. The service will then return to Hamad International Airport, Qatar Airways’ hub for flights to Australia and the Far East, at 15:55. Qatar will run a reduced service until June due to an aircraft delivery delay.
First Minister Carwyn Jones and Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker will be on the first flight to Cardiff.
“The new direct service between Cardiff and Doha is a huge boost for Wales,” said Mr Jones.
“It will open up Wales’ links with the rest of the world. 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.”
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns, who is also on the first flight from Doha to Cardiff, said:
“The new flight from Cardiff to Doha plugs our entrepreneurs straight into one of the most dynamic economies in the Middle East, and an airport which offers a further 150 global destinations.”
The Cardiff route, which is expected to take seven hours, was announced in April 2017 and adds to Qatar’s UK services to London Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh.
“The service opens up a world of connectivity for our customers in Wales and south west England to destinations across Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Asia and beyond,” said Cardiff Airport chief executive Deb Barber.