Qatar Airways’ first flight from Doha to Cardiff landed yesterday to provide the Welsh airport with its first long-haul connection to the Gulf region.

The new route will provide connectivity to the Middle East, Asia and Australia via the airline’s Doha hub, with onward flights to more than 150 destinations such as Sydney, Melbourne, Hong Kong and mainland China.

Qatar Airways currently flies from Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh, with flights from Gatwick to start on  May 22.

The inaugural flight to Cardiff was operated by a new Airbus A350-900, with wings are built by Airbus in Wales.

Going forward, Qatar Airways will operate its daily Cardiff service with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in a two-class configuration including 22 business class seats and 232 seats economy.

The airline’s chief executive Akbar Al Baker, said: “Today marks an especially important milestone for both Qatar Airways and Cardiff airport.

“The new service, our fifth gateway into the UK, now provides the people of Wales and the south-west with an extensive network of more than 150 destinations globally.

“We are delighted to welcome Cardiff into our route network, and to be able to provide the Welsh people with a new gateway to the world.”

Welsh secretary Alun Cairns said: “The first direct flight from Cardiff to Qatar plugs Wales straight into an area of massive investment and an airport with 150 onward destinations around the world.

“This is the fast track for Welsh companies doing business in the Gulf. Qatar is the UK’s third largest export market in the Middle East and accounts for £35 billion of existing investment.

“Passengers disembarking from the first direct flight from Doha to Cardiff will get the unmistakable message that Wales is open for business.”