New Doha airport to receive first passengers on April 1

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Qatar’s much-delayed airport, the newly renamed Hamad International Airport, will receive its first commercial passengers on April 1, the CEO of Qatar Airways confirmed on Sunday.

“The airport will be fully operational and fully open to all airlines in the second half of this year. Qatar Civil Aviation Authority chairman has stated that on April 1 the airport will be opened to airlines that do not require lounge utilisation,” Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker was quoted as saying by Gulf Times newspaper

Airport operator Qatar Airways said in December it will file a US$600m legal claim against German Emirati joint venture construction company Lindner Depa Interiors (LDI) after it claimed LDI’s failure to complete the $250m fit-out of 19 airport lounges by the summer of 2012 had resulted in significant delays to the opening of the project.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the World GTL Congress at the St Regis Doha on Sunday, Al Baker said a new contractor has been appointed to fit-out the lounges, which will be delivered between June and September later this year.

The US$15.5bn airport was due to have opened in December 12, 2012 but was delayed as the legal battle continued between airport authorities and LDI.

LDI accused the carrier of making "false and misleading" comments and the war of words intensified when Al Baker said the joint venture was "adding insult to injury by denying that its delay caused huge damages and that LDI should pay compensation for such damages".

Phase one of the new $15.5bn airport is slated to handle over 28 million passengers a year, with the capacity expected to more than double by the time the airport is fully operational in 2018.

The current Doha International Airport handles almost 20 million passengers a year, with over 80 per cent of the passenger traffic generated by Qatar Airways alone.

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