FINALLY, HIA OPENS
The soft launch of the Hamad International Airport (HIA) on April 30 saw the first commerical aircraft land at the new facility. Currently open to 10 budget airlines, HIA is expected to become fully operational from May 27. with all airlines, including Qatar Airways, flying out from there.
Several dignitaries, including the Minister for Transport HE Jassim Saif Ahmed Al Sulaiti , Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority and the New Doha International Airport Project Steering Committee, HE Abdulaziz Mohammed Al Noaimi and Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, arrived as the first passengers on the flight that landed at HIA, just minutes before a Fly Dubai flight touched the tarmac, flying in the first commercial passengers to the airport.
HE Al Naomi called this a landmark moment for Qatar and said that the HIA was the “pride of Qataris and also the future generations to come.” Built at an estimated cost of $15 billion, HIA will initially have the capacity to handle 30 million passengers a year. Al Baker, brushing aside a question about the delays, said that “it is time to forget the past. The delay had slightly disturbed several of the new destinations we had planned for Qatar Airways but now that the airport is fully functional, we expect to expand even more rapidly.”
The new airport includes a 300,000 sq. ft. retail gallery, a 23,000 sq. ft. mosque, two 100-room, five-star transfer hotels, a health spa, a 3,431-car park garage and a 742,000 sq. ft. flight catering facility. Phase 1 and 2 concourses include 41 contact gates and 20 remotestand gates.
The Opening of HIA is also good news for Qatar Airways as its first three A380s, which are due to arrive in June, will be able to operate out of an airport with facilities designed to accommodate the double-decker aircraft.