By Pratap John/Chief Business Reporter
Qatari and foreign dignitaries were yesterday given a preview of the passenger terminal complex at the ultra-modern, world-scale Hamad International Airport, which will receive first passengers on April 1.
In a “symbolic” passenger check-in ceremony, HE the Minister of State for Internal Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani received a “specially-designed and framed boarding pass” from Qatar Civil Aviation Authority chairman and managing director Abdul Aziz al-Noaimi.
The airport is all set to receive passenger flights of a dozen or more airlines in April, while cargo operations are set to open next month.
The ﬁrst phase of the $15.5bn project involves 12 international passenger airlines (including low-cost carriers) becoming the launch carriers of the new facility from April 1.
Qatar Airways will move its entire operations to Hamad International Airport in the second half of the year.
A “new state-of-the-art” catering facility was getting ready and would undergo trials in the coming months. The new catering facility will be capable of handling almost 90,000 meals a day.
By the summer of this year, all ﬂights in and out of Qatar, whether operating at Hamad International Airport or Doha International, will be catered to by this facility.
The Hamad International Airport complex will cover an area of 28sq km. The terminal building will have a size of 600,000sq m when it opens.
With the phased approach, Doha will have a dual airport operation until full operations begin at Hamad International in the second half of 2013.
The Hamad International Airport is a key project in Qatar’s national development strategy. Situated about 4km east of the existing airport, the new facility will be the world’s ﬁrst to be designed and built speciﬁcally for the Airbus doubledecker A380 – the largest passenger aircraft ever built.
Combining both “architectural panache and technologically advanced” systems, the 2,200-hectare airport site reclaimed half of its land from the Arabian Gulf.
The multi-billion dollar project is being implemented in phases. It will have an initial capacity of 24mn passengers a year, more than doubling to around 50mn by the time it is fully operational beyond 2015.
The Hamad International Airport will incorporate some 80 contact gates, including 25,000sq m devoted to retail space, comfortable lounges, and multi-storey short-term and long-term parking facilities.
Speaking on the occasion, al-Noaimi said: “Today we see a fulfilment of HH the Emir’s vision to have not just a new airport, but one that ranks among the best in the world. Today we gather here to celebrate the accomplishment of the NDIA Steering Committee’s task- to create a world-class airport that meets the demands of rapidly evolving aviation needs combined with leading-edge technology.”
Guests at the ceremony were invited to be amongst the first worshippers to attend the noon prayer within the Public Mosque located at the Passenger Terminal Complex. A building that architecturally echoes the water theme that runs through the airport, its interior is truly breath-taking with the gently domed roof filtering sunshine on to the prayer area in an ever-changing pattern of light and shadow.