More than 16 months after its planned December 2012 opening date, Doha’s new $15.5 billion gateway opened for business yesterday when 10 airlines switched operations to the new site.
Fittingly, a Qatar Airways flight was the first to officially land on the East Runway, and received the customary water salute from waiting fire rescue vehicles.
All the remaining carriers serving Doha, including national carrier Qatar Airways, are expected to move to the new airport by May 27.
“Hamad International Airport is a world-class aviation hub purpose-built to cater to rapidly evolving aviation and passenger needs of the 21st century,” enthuses Abdul Aziz Mohammad Al-Noaimi, chairman of the New Doha International Airport [NDIA] Steering Committee.
“In fact, its capacity on opening day will be 30 million annual passengers, which is more than the initial plan. Its capacity was expanded to accommodate the increased transit growth in Qatar over the course of the past decade."
HIA and Airport City (together comprising the NDIA project) span 29 square kilometres, 60% on land reclaimed from the Arabian Gulf.
The project includes 100 buildings of various uses.
The airport’s single passenger terminal features a massive internal area of 600,000sqm and has three concourses and 33 contact gates, which will subsequently be increased to five concourses and 65 contact gates, including eight for the A380, in the final build-out.
Once fully open, the terminal will also boast 16 lounges, 26 art installations, more than 100 F&B and retail outlets, a transit hotel, a swimming pool, a luxury spa, squash courts and a four-storey catering facility that is one of the largest in the world.
The on-site public mosque can accommodate 500 worshippers at prayer time.
“The launch of the new airport represents the fulfilment of the longstanding vision of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Father Emir, which was brought to fruition by His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar,” says Al-Noaimi.
“HIA will be a source of pride and joy for all people of Qatar for many decades to come. It will deliver a memorable experience to all passengers that will travel through its gates; an experience that reflects Qatar's status and importance on the world travel and tourism map.”