Qatar to reopen old Doha airport to ease Fifa World Cup traffic

It was replaced by Hamad International Airport in 2014

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Qatar is to reopen the old Doha International Airport next week to ease pressure from airline traffic before the 2022 World Cup.

The airport has been in semi-retirement since it was replaced in 2014 by Hamad International Airport, a major global hub which has grown alongside national airline Qatar Airways.

The World Cup is expected to attract more than one million visitors when it is held between Sunday, November 20 and Sunday, December 18.

Qatar Airways said Cairo flights would operate from the old airport this week for Egyptian fans travelling for Friday's Lusail Super Cup match between Zamalek and Al Hilal, the respective Egyptian and Saudi league champions.

Kuwait's Jazeera Airways, the UAE's flydubai, Oman's SalamAir and Turkey's Pegasus Airlines have begun selling tickets to Doha airport starting from September 15.

Qatari authorities have yet to officially comment on the move back to Doha airport.

It is currently mainly being used for flights by Qatar's royal family and VIPs, along with its air force.

Hamad International Airport was used by three million passengers in June alone and 8.42 million in the second quarter of 2022 ― a figure the Civil Aviation Authority said was 18 per cent higher than the first three months of the year.

Travellers inside the departures terminal at Hamad International Airport in Doha, in June. Bloomberg

It is undergoing an expansion that will see capacity increased to 58 million passengers a year.

But with 150,000 people a day expected to arrive during the peak days of the World Cup, some aviation analysts have said Hamad airport might struggle to cope.

Low-cost airline Jazeera Airways said on its website that from next Thursday, "all of our regular Doha flights will be temporarily moved to Doha International Airport".

The airline said the change was "following the instructions of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority" and would last until December 30.

During the tournament, only fans with tickets will be allowed into the Gulf state.

Organisers announced earlier this year that several Gulf airlines, from Dubai, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, would run more than 100 daily shuttles into Doha airport during the tournament.

Passengers on those flights will go through immigration checks on departure to reduce delays in Doha. They will be asked to return the same day after watching their match.

Updated: September 28, 2022, 8:38 AM
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