Qatar Airways
Reuters

The chief executive of Qatar Airways has said the number of passengers travelling to the US from the Middle East has declined but only to a small extent, stressing Donald Trump remains a "very good businessman".

"We didn't have massive decline like other carriers so we still have robust loads to the United States and we will continue our commitment to our passengers in the United States," Akbar al-Baker said at the Arabian Travel Market Exhibition in Dubai.

"Qatar Airways does not plan and will not reduce frequencies to the United States. I am sure that these uncertainties that passengers have soon could be resolved by statements from the United States' government."

Last week, Emirates unveiled plans to reduce the number of flights to the US, blaming the US president's immigration policy for a drop in demand.

The travel ban, which has been blocked from taking effect by a number of US courts, was intended to temporarily halt entry to the US for citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Emirates, the largest commercial carrier in the Middle East, said flights to the US from its hub in Dubai will decline from 126 to 101 from next month, with daily services to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale scaled down to five a week. Fights to Boston, Los Angeles and Seattle will operate once, rather than twice, a day.

Along with Dubai, Doha, where Qatar Airways is based, is among the 10 cities in Muslim-majority countries to be hit by a ban on laptops and electronic devices in cabin bags on flights to the US.

However, al-Baker said that while the uncertainty over travel to the US was "affecting business", it was doing so to a "small extent". The CEO of Qatar Airways added the airline, which currently flies to over 12 destinations in the US, was planning to introduce a new route to Las Vegas possibly from as early as next year.

The US, however, was only one of the next business frontiers for the carrier, which plans to expand to 26 new destinations worldwide.

Along with Emirates and other Gulf-based airlines, Qatar has come under severe criticism from the likes of United Airlines, Delta Airlines and American Airlines, which have accused them of cheating by pocketing $50bn (£40m, €47m) worth of subsidies by the US government.

US carriers have been vocal in asking the government to prevent Gulf airlines from expanding aggressively in the US domestic market, but al-Baker suggested Trump was unlikely to be "bullied" into accepting the demands.

"I have repeatedly mentioned that President Trump is a very wise individual and a very good businessman, and I don't think that he will buy into bullying by the three American carriers," he explained.

Meanwhile, Qatar Airways confirmed it will launch direct flights from Cardiff to Doha from next year.

"It has been a long journey to get to this stage, with discussions spanning a number of years," said Deb Barber, chief executive of Cardiff Airport. "Over the coming months we will work with the team at Qatar Airways to confirm the details of the service and look forward to the flights being on sale in the near future."

Data released earlier this month, showed exports from Wales to Qatar amounted to £26m last year and are expected to grow even further as the region seeks to strengthen business relationships outside the European Union.