It has been reported that Qatar Airways plans to return operations to Cardiff Airport by the end of 2023, following a three-year hiatus on the route.
Arabian Oryx reunites the Welsh Dragon
Qatar Airways is reported to be planning to recommence flights between its Doha home hub base and the Welsh capital by the end of 2023.
Qatar Airways previously operated the route before removing it from its network at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Q1 March 2020.
It was reported by local news source South Wales Argus that the plans were shared with the Member of Parliament for the Vale of Glamorgan, Alun Cairns, during a recent meeting in Doha.
The meeting was between Cairns and His Excellency Akbar Al Baker where discussions included the future plans of the airline. This formed part of the Qatar Economic Forum held between 21 and 23 May 2023.
Cairns holds the position of chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Qatar. It is said he has maintained regular contact with the airline and authorities since the previous route was withdrawn in March 2020.
The route was previously operated on the company’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet. However, route times, aircraft and frequencies are not yet confirmed.
It was reported that, prior to the pandemic, around 25% of travellers between Wales and Qatar were travelling for business purposes. The rest were for leisure and other reasons.
Vale of Glamorgan MP , Alun Cairns said: “I am grateful to (Akbar Al Baker) for his commitment to restarting the flights from Cardiff to Doha… Flights from Cardiff to Doha helps our entrepreneurs straight into one of the most dynamic economies in the Middle East.”
Boost for beleagured Cardiff
Cairns added, “The pandemic clearly had an impact on the airline industry, but I am hopeful that with the return of Qatar Airways to Cardiff will provide a big boost to the airport that has suffered in recent times.”
Cardiff Airport saw the brunt of the pandemic out of all UK airports. Reports showed the airport saw a 87% decline in passengers between 2019 and 2020 – from 1,656,085 in 2019 to 219,984 in 2020.
And its recovery has been anything other than smooth. As the government purchased the airport seven years ago, since then there have been questions over its funding and value for money.
Wizz Air also announced in January 2023 that it would end flights to the Welsh capital during 2023, citing a difficult economic environment.
However, Ryanair announced new routes and changes to its summer programme in Cardiff.
Cardiff Airport Chief Executive Officer, Spencer Birns, speaking on Qatar Airways proposition, said “We are excited in anticipation that we are likely to hear about their planned start dates soon.”
With a major flag carrier presence, and the potential international connections outside of the UK capital airport, Heathrow, Cardiff will no doubt take some optimism in the news.
“The pandemic clearly had an impact on the airline industry, but I am hopeful that with the return of Qatar Airway’s to Cardiff, this will provide a big boost to the airport that has suffered in recent times,” Cairns concluded.