New Qatar airport to open next week

Hamad International will open to budget airlines first, with all carriers to have moved over by May 27.

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Qatar’s civil aviation authority says Hamad International Airport, a key part of the country’s plan to become a regional aviation hub, will open to passenger traffic next week after construction delays of more than a year.

Initially budget airlines will operate at the airport, according to a circular from the authority, while other airlines will start services there in late May.

The new airport, part of Qatar’s preparations to host the Fifa World Cup in 2022, was originally due to open in 2012. The project was slowed by delays among construction firms and quality and cost issues, sources in the building industry said.

As of May 27, “all airlines shall entirely move to Hamad International Airport”, the circular said.

Qatar’s current airport, Doha International, handled 23.3 million passengers last year, according to its website. Officials have said Hamad International, projected to cost around US$17.5 billion, will ultimately be able to handle 50 million passengers and 2 million tonnes of cargo annually.

Qatar Airways, which has expanded to a fleet of 116 aircraft since its launch 15 years ago, has said Doha’s existing airport has reached capacity and the delay in moving to the new facility was hindering its expansion.

* Reuters