After a slow start Qatar Airways passenger load factors between Cardiff and Doha are on the rise.

This must be welcome news to both the airport and the Welsh government.

Back in July Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker admitted to the Independent that he was “disappointed” with the passenger numbers on the new route.

At the time Al Baker was quoted as saying, “Cardiff is still not performing as we expected it to perform. We are giving it time. We are hoping Cardiff will come around,  passenger-wise.”

Figures from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) and published by WalesOnline show that the route carried 30,000 passengers between May 1 and the end of August. The latter was the route’s busiest month with a recorded load-factor of 72 per cent.

The projected first year’s traffic is 90,000 against a seat capacity of 150,000. It’s too early to say whether the route is profitable.

To lure Qatar Airways the route received funding and marketing support from the Welsh government. Cardiff, an airport owned by the Welsh government, is not served by any other of the Gulf carriers.

Back in June the BBC reported the amount in question was “confidential” but one month later it revealed the Welsh government was paying Qatar Airways £1 million over a two year period to market Wales.

To this end a new air service will help Welsh Exporters. Last Saturday @Cardiff_Airport tweeted that a number of local Food and Drink companies had flown out to Doha “to showcase their products to a host of distributors and retail buyers. All are looking to secure new business.”

When an airline markets a long-haul route it’s usually at least one year before any decision on its future is taken.

Whether any route is profitable for Qatar Airways will depend on various factors and some of the information will be confidential – for example:

  • The number of passengers travelling in business and economy class
  • The end destination for the travellers. A passenger flying purely to Doha will generate more ‘yield’ (revenue per seat) than one travelling on to Hong Kong, Johannesburg or Sydney.
  • But on the other hand the latter passenger will provide more benefit to that airline’s entire network.
  • Yield can be influenced by the origin of the passenger and by currency values. Someone starting in a strong currency area will earn the airline more than someone who originates in a weak currency area.
  • Last but not least never forget the contribution made by freight which out course is carried out of sight.

It is to be hoped that the Cardiff-Doha route proves to be a success.  Business Traveller will update you on any further developments in due course.,