| Qatar | Mar 25, 2015
Hamad International Airport has revolutionized the aviation sector in Qatar.
Now that the airport is fully operational, it is all the more obvious that an upgrade from the former airport was desperately needed to facilitate Qatar’s trajectory to economic growth and diversity. When talking to TBY, Badr Al Meer, COO of the new airport, explained it as follows; “Our government sees it is as a complete equation, meaning that if you grow in your economy, you also need to grow in your facilities. Our new airport is an important part of this equation.”
Just 10 years ago, around 5 million people a year passed through Doha Airport. That number currently stands at close to 25 million and is likely to continue to rise as its flagship airline, Qatar Airways, is expanding rapidly. HIA has been designed to cater for a projected ongoing increase in the volume of traffic. The new airport can handle up to 100 planes per hour, which is more than treble the number of the old airport. This implies an annual capacity of just short of 30 million passengers. Official numbers say that, when the already planned expansions of the airport are completed, HIA will be able to handle 50 million passengers per year. However, some estimates suggest the airport could handle even up to 90 million per year, thereby making it the second largest airport in the region after Dubai. When TBY met with Akbar Al Baker, Group CEO of Qatar Airways as well as CEO of the new airport, to evaluate the inaugural period of HIA, it was clear that it exceeded his expectations. “Hamad International Airport has distinguished itself as a world-class airport and as a key global hub with great potential going forward.” With facilities such as a spa, which includes a swimming pool and squash courts, as well as both a business class lounge and a first class lounge of more than 10,000 sqm, it truly is an airport that sets a new standard.
Although the opening of the new facility faced serious delays, it is a lesson well learned for other projects in the pipeline. The new airport is the first in a series of drastic infrastructure upgrades that will lift Qatar to the high international level that it aspires. On top of that, HIA is vital to realizing the Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030 as it will be the hub to facilitate the stream of goods that will be needed to build the country. Essential to this is HIA’s cargo facility, which operates the most up-to-date automated system in order to handle up to 1.4 million tons of cargo annually. This will then further increase to 2.5 million upon completion of the second terminal that is currently being built. As in all of the country’s activities, the airport embodies the national drive for quality and the ambition to be among the best in the world. A confident Badr Al-Meer emphasized this by saying that, “our target is to be among the top airports in the world, and hopefully we can get there within the next year or so.”