Cardiff Airport is set to welcome a new Qatar Airways service to Doha next year, providing a major boost for Welsh businesses.
The new Qatar Airways service which will take to the skies last year will provide Welsh businesses with access to more than 150 destinations across six continents.
It will be the first regular direct long-haul flight linking Wales and south west England to a major global hub in the Gulf region, benefiting both leisure and business travellers.
Services will fly between Cardiff and Hamad International Airport in Doha, which since opening in 2014 is one of the world’s largest hub airports with more than 30 million passengers using the state-of-the-art facilities each year.
The new service will stimulate inbound tourism to and from the region as a major gateway to the UK.
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 1 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.
“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.”
Roger Lewis, chairman at Cardiff Airport, added: “This is a ‘game changing’ announcement for Cardiff Airport and for Wales. The benefits of this relationship will be transformational for both businesses and passengers across the south west of England and for Wales.
"I sincerely thank H.E., Mr. Akbar Al Baker, for the trust he and Qatar Airways are placing in us. He is a truly inspirational leader and I am honoured to have worked with him on this project.
"I am confident that the team at Cardiff Airport will deliver a world-class service with Qatar Airways for all of our passengers both visiting Wales and travelling across the world.
"I look forward to returning to Doha in the near future to further develop this special bi-lateral relationship between Wales, the UK and Qatar."
Businesses from a range of sectors across Wales have welcomed the news which will provide a major boost to the Welsh economy.
Seamus Gates, director of corporate finance at accountancy firm Broomfield & Alexander, added: “Attracting such a high profile carrier to operate services from Cardiff is fantastic for the airport and also good news for Wales as a whole.
“Cardiff Airport is often considered a poor relation to Bristol Airport, so attracting a service like this will not only mean more visitors, but also sends out an important message from an international trade perspective.
“Creating opportunities for global investors from the Middle East and other connected regions to fly directly into Wales could impact on the volume and values of deals with businesses in these territories, as well as giving Welsh entrepreneurs better access to global markets from their own front door.”