Qatar has confirmed that preparations are well underway for the April 1 first phase opening of the new Hamad International Airport.
The new hub, formerly known as the New Doha International Airport, will be operated by national carrier Qatar Airways.
Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) said 12 international airlines will become launch carriers at the new facility from April 1.
QCAA chairman Abdul Aziz Al Noiami said the launch airline would include low-cost carriers, without giving details.
Qatar Airways will move its entire operations to Hamad International Airport in the second half of the year, he added.
A statement said Qatar Airways will work closely with the first movers to ensure a smooth transition of flights from the current Doha International Airport.
It added that with the phased approach, Doha will have a dual airport operation until full operations begin at Hamad International in the second half of 2013.
Al Noami said: “Hamad International Airport will truly be a global showpiece that the State of Qatar will justifiably be proud of.
“The airlines that we will shortly welcome to Hamad International Airport will make history becoming the first commercial operators of flights to and from the world’s newest aviation hub from April 1.
“A new workplace and stunning architectural masterpiece will enhance the skyline of Doha providing new surroundings for airport employees and the travelling public from around the world.”
Al Noaimi said that the cargo operations and catering facilities will be ready for operations within weeks.
From March, freight forwarders and agents in Qatar will process import and export consignments at Hamad International Airport. Cargo uplift and arrivals will remain at Doha International Airport from where shipments will be transported by road to the new facility.
Cargo flights operated by Qatar Airways and other freighter companies are expected to begin to and from Hamad International from the summer.
Al Noaimi said the next few months will see the new catering facility open in phases at Hamad International, initially handling meals for airlines operating from the new airport.
He added that trials of various facilities involving passengers and cargo have been in place for over six months.
“We are confident that we will have a fully functional and highly efficient airport to welcome our national carrier Qatar Airways when they move to their spectacular new home towards the second part of the year.”
Hamad International Airport will accommodate 28 million passengers annually when it opens this year, increasing to 50 million beyond 2015.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “2013 is an historic year for the State of Qatar, Qatar Airways and the country’s young aviation industry.
“Qatar Airways, as the operator of the new Hamad International Airport and main user of the facility, looks forward to welcoming airlines and passengers to the airport in just a few weeks’ time opening up a new era for our country.
“This will be a world class facility that promises to propel our nation further on the international stage. Of course the story doesn’t end here.
“Later this year, Qatar Airways will move its entire operations to Hamad International Airport, as all airport lounges are expected to be ready and fully operational by then ensuring that all our passengers have a truly world class experience that they fully deserve.
“These are exciting times for our aviation industry and the people of Qatar, so let us relish the moment.”