The new $15bn international airport in Doha will be able to accommodate up to 70mn passengers annually and will eventually become a dedicated terminal for Qatar Airways, it was revealed at its official launch on Wednesday.
Hamad International Airport welcomed its first passengers with a 40-minute late Flydubai flight arriving about an hour after a Qatar Airways plane, carrying dignitaries and members of the airport steering committee made the first official touchdown to a water canon salute.
The airport missed several deadlines for opening, including the end of 2012, 1 April 2013 and the end of last year as a result firstly of a redesign and, latterly, regulatory issues.
“Every day we showed patience in order to face challenges, which have made our willingness even stronger to establish this venue that will be the pride of this and future generations,” Al Noaimi said.
“Today we achieved what we promised – we are opening the airport.”
Al Noaimi said the airport, which he confirmed had a final cost “more or less” of $15bn, will handle 30mn passengers annually from day one, building up to 50mn passengers when the third stage is finished in a few years.
However he said, based on the ability of the now-old Doha airport to process 17mn passengers a year compared to its capacity of nine million, he believed “we can service up to 70mn passengers”.
He said Qatar was currently constructing a second terminal building, referred to as phase three of HIA, and he revealed “all airlines will transfer to that building with the exception of Qatar Airlines”.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said the most recent delays were the result of “certain issues raised by authorities about international standards and those needed to be addressed”.
“Those took some time, longer than expected,” he said. “But, we should forget about the past and look to the future.”
The project, which was started in 2005, comprises 100 buildings, including a 600,000m2 passenger terminal with three concourses and 33 contact gates. This will eventually be increased to five concourses and 65 contact gates, including eight for the A380 in the final build-out.
The terminal also features 16 lounges, 26 art installations, more than 100 f & b and retail outlets, transit hotel, swimming pool, luxury spa, squash courts and a 4-storey catering facility that is one of the largest in the world.
Also, an on site public mosque can accommodate 500 worshippers.
“HIA is a world-class aviation hub purpose-built to cater to rapidly evolving aviation and passenger needs of the 21st century,” al Noaimi said.