ALL ABOARD THE AIRPORT BUS FOR KATHMANDU
This May, Qatar airways launch long haul services from Cardiff Wales Airport. It is hoped that this will help to secure the future of the airport, providing new opportunities for business and tourists and a shot in the arm for the local airport bus.
From May 1st when Qatar Airways services begin, Kathmandu will be just one of the destinations it will be possible to reach from our local airport. The capital of Nepal has been a popular tourist destination for decades and a ‘place to go’ if you were a hippie in the 1960s or 1970s. The city still has, Jhochhen Tole, nicknamed ‘Freak Street’ in commemoration of the many thousands of hippies who passed through.
On your way to Kathmandu, expect a fourteen hour flight, with a stop in Doha, capital of Qatar. Flying long distance will perhaps make a stopover at Doha a good idea. At the risk of sounding like a tourist brochure, what can you see and do in Doha? Lonely Planet’s Number 1 attraction is the historic Souq Waqif. The entire market area has been cleverly redeveloped to look like a 19th-century souq, with mud-rendered shops, exposed timber beams and some beautifully restored original Qatari buildings. The Trip Advisor Number 1 is a visit to the stunning Islamic Arts Museu
The Welsh Government has an ambitious target of three million passengers a year for the airport, which if successful will require a replacement terminal within ten years. Some believe the Qatar initiative is overly ambitious. It has been pointed out though, that 1.4 million passengers from Wales and the South West already fly to the Middle East each year using other UK airports. Figures show that exports from Wales to Qatar and the wider Middle East are increasing and are expected to grow further, as Welsh businesses attempt to find new markets outside the European Union. Tourism to Doha itself is rising and of course it is due to host the Fifa World Cup in 2022. Over to Ryan Giggs!
The new developments will mean it is also possible to fly from Cardiff to Namibia, Bali, the Seychelles and even Australia. By way of comparison, Edinburgh's long-haul links are few and far between, although they do include Hartford, Connecticut. From Cork, there’s one long-haul service, oddly to Providence, Rhode Island. Adding to the encouraging expansion in routes, Flybe is putting on a twice weekly flight to Venice and tour operator Super Break has two short breaks to Iceland and Seville. Iberia Express is also resuming flights to Madrid. All this then, is a feather in the cap of the Principality’s main airport.
Perhaps a revival in the fortunes will have a knock on effect on the airport bus. A year after its launch in August 2013 it was being called a ‘ghost bus’ due to low passenger numbers; one official report finding that in its first six months the bus had averaged less than four passengers per journey since its launch. However for us in Wenvoe, the bus is a very convenient and cost effective way of getting to the airport, especially those of a certain age, for whom the service is free. There’s never been a more convenient way of getting to Kathmandu!