Dubai: Wales’ Cardiff Airport, in the west of Britain, is looking to replicate the efforts of Scotland’s Edinburgh Airport in attracting the major Gulf carriers.
Cardiff Airport executives are in Dubai this week at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the region’s largest travel and tourism exhibition, to meet with counterparts from the region’s largest airline including Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.
“We have a market that is ready and willing to get on the flight,” Spencer Birns, aviation and business development director at Cardiff Airport told Gulf News.
Cardiff Airport handled around 1.1 million passengers in 2013 and is currently connected to the Gulf by Air France-KLM. However, flights are not direct. The flight has a stopover in France or the Netherlands.
Much of the UK’s international passenger traffic is currently concentrated in the capital through London Heathrow and London Gatwick airports. But other airports including Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, and more recently Edinburgh, have been able to attract the major Gulf airlines.
Last year, Qatar Airways launched flights to Edinburgh and Etihad Airways will commence its service to the Scottish capital next month. Emirates flies to Glasgow.
Cardiff Airport believes there is a business case for Gulf carriers to operate direct flights. Birns said statistics show that 900,000 passengers are travelling a year between Wales and markets served by Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways, with many choosing to fly either through London or with Air France-KLM.
Asked what the obstacle was in attracting the Gulf airlines, Birns said that “they have choice” and are able to decide where and when they fly.