Hamad International Airport (HIA) receives its first passengers today, thereby closing one chapter on Qatar aviation and opening another.
The project has been plagued by construction challenges since 2009, and for much of that time was named New Doha International Airport, but today Qatar starts a new aviation era. HIA’s impressive facilities further raise the regional aviation stakes – especially the battle for east-west and north-south transit traffic – with neighbouring Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Ten airlines are initially operating out of the $17 billion facility; Biman Bangladesh Airlines, flydubai, Air Arabia, Iran Air, Air India Express, Yemenia Airways, Pakistan International Airlines, Nepal Airlines, Syrian Air and Pegasus Airlines. All other carriers are due to make the switch on May 27.
HIA contains 41 widebody aircraft contact gates (which will rise to 65 on final completion), together with over 25,000sqm of retail space (104 retail outlets and 30 cafes/restaurants), passenger lounges and parking. Other features include a new Emiri (royal) Terminal complex for VIP flights with additional hardstands, cargo terminal buildings, aircraft hangars and associated airline and airport ancillary features. The complex will include an airport hotel and 100-room transit hotel.
The new airport can handle 30 million passengers a year in phase one – and judging by the growth through Doha International Airport, which handled 23 million passengers in 2013, a near 10 per cent increase on 2012, it may not be long before that capacity is realised. HIA will be able to handle 50 million passengers a year once it is fully operational beyond 2015.
Qatar Airways began four-times weekly flights to Larnaca on A320s yesterday, its 138th destination, and recently announced its first A380 services to London Heathrow will depart from HIA on June 4 (click here). The rapidly expanding carrier began flights to Philadelphia in April (click here).