Qatar Airways will return to London Gatwick with double daily flights to and from Doha from May 22, having pulled out of the airport in 2011.

The move forms part of Qatar Airways’ joint business with British Airways, with chief executive Akbar Al Baker saying BA short-haul flights to Gatwick will supply feeder traffic for the service to Doha and onward from the carrier’s Qatar hub.

Al Baker announced the move at German travel trade show ITB in Berlin on Wednesday, saying: “The UK is one of our most important markets.

“We are excited to add Gatwick as an additional gateway to London [and] our sixth to the UK.”

Qatar suspended services from Gatwick in May 2011 saying it could “no longer sustain the route [to Doha] for commercial reasons”.

Gatwick Airport chief executive Stewart Wingate expressed delight, saying: “This new route to Qatar compliments Gatwick’s flourishing long-haul network.”

Qatar Airways announced aggressive expansion plans, with 16 new destinations for 2018 including a direct service to Luxembourg, and to Bodrum, Antalya and Hatay in Turkey, Mykonos and Thessaloniki in Greece and Málaga in Spain.

Several existing services to and from Europe will also see increased frequencies, with double daily flights to Warsaw, Prague and Kyiv and triple daily to Madrid and Barcelona.

Al Baker said: “We are committed to continuing our ambitious growth strategy.”

The carrier had previously announced the launch of services from Cardiff in May. It will operate Boeing 787 aircraft between Gatwick and Doha.