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Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker addressing the media in Berlin yesterday. Also seen are Paul Johannes (left), airline’s Vice-President, Commercial North, South & Western Europe, and Gregory Epps, Country Manager, Central Europe.
DOHA: Qatar Airways promoted the upcoming opening of the Hamad International Airport at ITB Berlin, the world’s biggest travel fair taking place in the German capital.
Speaking at a press conference at the event yesterday, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker spelled out the developments taking place in the country with the national airline playing a pivotal role in the nation’s airport infrastructure developments.
The facility, built at a cost of over $15.5bn, is set to open in phases, beginning on April 1 with a select-few airlines moving from the current Doha International Airport. Qatar Airways Group, which will manage and operate the new airport, will move to Hamad International towards the end of the year.
Al Baker also spoke of how Qatar Airways looked forward to becoming a fully fledged member of Oneworld, the first of the major Gulf carriers to announce intentions to join a global airline alliance. And he elaborated on a new association, set to begin this summer, when Qatar Airways becomes a strategic partner with FC Barcelona. He said: “These are exciting times for Qatar Airways and the State of Qatar. The opening of Hamad International Airport, our new home, will be a formidable milestone in the country’s relatively short history in the aviation industry.”
“This is an airport being watched closely by industry observers around the world, an airport that will set the standards and benchmark globally in the quality of facilities, services and finishings, nowhere seen anywhere in the world,” he stated.
Al Baker added that “we look forward to welcoming the first airlines next month followed soon after by cargo operations and freighter flights moving across to Hamad International Airport. Qatar Airways will move its entire operations to the new airport by the end of the year.”
Hamad International Airport will initially have a handling capacity of 28 million passengers a year, increasing to 50 million in its final phase of development beyond 2015. The current airport will remain open to passenger services until Qatar Airways moves its entire operations to the new facility.
Highlights of the new facility include over 40,000 sqm of retail space and passenger lounges, 41 contact gates, dedicated gates for the Airbus A380 superjumbo, a VVIP terminal, an iconic mosque, cargo complex and two runways, one being the longest in the world, and much more.
Al Baker added: “The new airport is an architectural masterpiece that promises to be a great new travel experience, meeting the exciting expansion plans for Qatar Airways which currently operates 121 aircraft to 125 destinations worldwide. Within three years, we will surpass 170 aircraft flying to over 170 destinations. Our expansion has been a game-changer in the industry, rising over the years to meet the exceptional demand for business and leisure traffic.”
“Across the world, we are continuing our expansion with three new routes already launched this year to Najaf in Iraq, Gassim in Saudi Arabia and to the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. We will be adding Chicago to our network next month, followed by Salalah in May and Chengdu in China later,” said Al Baker.