BY MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: The much-awaited Hamad International Airport (HIA) with the recently adopted punch line ‘Runway to the future, Gateway to the world’ has many unique features and stunning facilities, which are expected to enhance Qatar’s position as a truly global gateway.
The ambitious project on track for opening by the middle of the year, boasts a host of amenities, including the world’s longest commercial runway at sea level, one of the world’s biggest cargo facilities, one of the largest catering facilities and one of the largest integrated Airport City.
There are two driverless trains — Automated People Mover (APM) — each with five coaches to carry about 6,000 passengers per hour per direction.
A section is dedicated to transfer passengers to speed connections between sections of the terminal, with a cruising speed of 45kmph, to facilitate the 30-minute minimum connect time. The APM runs over 500m connecting the North and South Nodes of the terminal.
The airport is a world-class purpose-built aviation hub to cater to rapidly evolving aviation needs such as spa, gym, squash courts and a swimming pool as well as a transit hotel in the South Node and other facilities for the 21st century passengers.
For instance, the Airport City, spread over 10 square kilometres, where an estimated 200,000 people are expected to live and work.
Perhaps this is the first serious effort anywhere in the world that offers an interface between an international airport and the City it serves. Unlike other international airports, HIA has been positioned as an integral part of the city.
The airport, once fully operational, will receive about 50 million passengers and handle 1.4m tonnes of cargo per year through its two parallel runways, built two km apart from each other, allowing for independent, simultaneous operations.
The Eastern Runway at 4,850 metres (4.8km) is the longest commercial runway at sea level and the Western Runway is 4,250 metres (4.2km) long. Both are 60 metres wide and capable of unrestricted A-380 operations.
HIA, stretched across 29 sqkm, including the Airport City, with 60 percent of it on land reclaimed on the Arabian Gulf, includes multi-concourse Terminal 1, Emiri Terminal, a mosque, second passenger terminal, vehicle rental and car parking facilities, cargo, maintenance hangar and catering facilities.
More than 200 contractors and service contracts with over 1,000 architects, designers, consultants, engineers and project managers worked to deliver the region’s newest aviation hub. The water droplet-inspired structure of the public mosque at the airport can accommodate 500 worshipers at a time, with a separate area for women.
There are nearly 7,600 parking stalls for vehicles, including 3,431 short-term and 2,479 long-term stalls.
The Emiri Terminal is architecturally reminiscent of dhow sails. The construction process required over 40 million man-hours to commission and complete the building. Facilities inside the terminal are for the use of the Emir, the Royal Family, ministers and VVIP guests.
The Aircraft Maintenance Hangars, stretching half a kilometre, include two wide span hangars for line base and heavy maintenance and are equipped for all maintenance and repair activities on aircraft, including A-380 ones. The door for the line maintenance hangar is over 220 metres long and 27 metres high, the widest free span door opening in the world.
The duty-free warehouse building, spread across 16,000 sqm, has 21 loading docks, nine landside and 12 airside.
The retail shopping area at the passenger terminal includes branded boutique shops, chocolates, cigars, tobacco, cosmetics and many other high-end luxury goods.
Spread across 69,000sqm, the Catering Facility is one of the largest in the world, with a capacity to serve over 90,000 meals per day. There are separate kitchens for food prepared according to various cultural and religious requirements.
The Baggage Handling System uses the latest technology with automatic sorting of 19,500 bags per hour. It has one of the world’s largest installations of hybrid RFID systems combined with barcode scanners. The Peninsula