The new passenger terminal at Hamad International Airport. (Shaival Dalal)
DOHA: The passenger terminal of Qatar’s multi-billion dollar new airport (Hamad International) is on track for mid-year opening. However, no specific date was announced for the inauguration of the ambitious project.
“The opening of Hamad International Airport (HIA) in the middle of this year will bring to fruition the vision of the Father Emir, to build a world-class airport, a vision that the Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was eager to complete through his support and guidance,” said Abdul Aziz Mohammad Al Noaimi, Chairman of the Steering Committee of New Doha International Airport (NDIA).
The cargo terminal at HIA started operations on December 1, when it received its first Qatar Airways Cargo shipment for Qatar Petroleum from Europe. And the passenger terminal was expected to open in the first quarter of 2014.
When prodded by reporters to provide a specific opening date and also the cause of indefinite delays, Al Noaimi said: “It is very difficult to give an exact date, but the picture will be clearer by the middle of April. As far as the delays are concerned it is because changes were requested during construction to expand the project and also because the main contractor violated the agreement.”
Al Noaimi was speaking at a press meeting called to share some of the new details of the HIA. The meeting, held under the theme ‘Runway to the Future, Gateway to the World’ was also attended by members of the NDIA Steering Committee, including Akbar Al Baker, Nasser Al Ansari, Ali Abdullah Al Abdullah, Mohammed Abdul Kareem Al Meer, Abdullah Khalifa M Al Assiri, Essa Arrar Al Romaihi, Abdullah Jassim Al Meraikhi, and Saad Farhan Al Otaibi.
Before the press event there was an extensive tour of the new airport that highlighted the vast number and scale of facilities that will be put into service. These include the public mosque, the Emiri Terminal, East and West runways, cargo terminal, aircraft maintenance hangars and baggage handling system. “I am proud to confirm today (yesterday) that this project is nearly complete. HIA stands as a ground-breaking accomplishment fusing refined architectural style achieved through state-of-the-art airport and facility construction technology,” added Al Noaimi.
“The result is more than an airport; it is an international transport hub satisfying all the requirements of the fast-growing aviation sector in the region. This is needed in light of the growing traffic through and into the region, driven by world-scale events planned in the next decade.”
He also said that HIA will be larger and have greater capacity on its opening day than initially envisioned. Due to increased transit growth in Qatar and the region in the past few years, these modifications were necessary to deliver an airport with a capacity of 30 million on opening day.
According to reports, the planning for the $15.5bn project took place in 2003 and construction on the first two phases began in 2006, which were originally scheduled to be completed by 2009 but got delayed by several years. The third and final phase is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015.