Low-cost Spanish airline Vueling surprised its 600,000th passenger at Cardiff Airport with a pair of free return tickets to either Malaga or Alicante, the gateway to the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca regions.

The prize was awarded during a celebration at the gate before boarding a scheduled flight to Palma Mallorca. Other passengers also enjoyed individually iced birthday cupcakes and Vueling gifts.

Since operating its first flight from Cardiff in spring 2012, Vueling has increased capacity at Wales’ national airport by 300 per cent over a five-year period, providing more than 190,000 seats for Welsh passengers alone last summer.

This winter season, Vueling will be offering more than 30,000 seats with flights to the popular Spanish destinations of Malaga and Alicante. Situated on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol and surrounded by a wealth of resorts overlooking golden sandy beaches, Malaga promises a getaway for all occasions. An ideal destination for all times of year thanks to its mild climate, visitors can take in the city’s soaring Renaissance cathedral nicknamed La Manquita or hop down to trendy Puerto Banus for a touch of celeb spotting. For city break enthusiasts looking uncover a slice of Spanish culture, Alicante offers a thriving city port location, home to the old town of Barrio de la Santa Cruz which promises a wealth of narrow streets to explore, striking coloured houses and a strong nightlife scene.

Gabriel Schmilovich, director of Network Strategy and Planning, said: “We’re thrilled to have reached another important UK milestone with Cardiff Airport. Cardiff remains an important part of our network and it’s a real achievement to have transported 600,000 passengers over five years, offering greater choice for those travelling through Wales.”

Spencer Birns, commercial director at Cardiff Airport, said: “Vueling has provided our customers with consistent and regular flights to four key Spanish destinations over five years, during which time the airline has responded to our customers by adding more choice.

"Alicante, Barcelona, Malaga and Palma Mallorca are wonderful destinations, and 600,000 passengers is testament to just how popular these services are. We look forward to Vueling’s continued success at Cardiff Airport.”