Qatar Airways set for expansion at 'higher speed'

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Qatar Airways is expected to add to its list of 125 destinations with the opening of the new Hamad International Airport in Doha.

The $15.5bn airport welcomed its first passengers on Wednesday when 10 carriers began flying out of HIA in a “soft launch” of the new facility.

The national carrier will start operating from the new airport on May 27, along with other major airlines.

Steering committee chairman Abdul Aziz Mohamad Al Noaimi said delays in opening the airport had affected Qatar Airways’ ability to expand its network of destinations.

The airport missed several deadlines for opening, including the end of 2012, April 1 2013 and the end of last year as a result firstly of a redesign and later what authorities described as were regulatory issues.

“For sure the delay of the opening of the new airport had an influence on Qatar Airways,” he said, adding that the carrier had planned to open new destinations.

“But, from now on I think Qatar Airways will go to higher speed in opening new destinations.”

Al Noaimi said the airport steering committee was conscious of the effect of the FIFA World Cup in 2022 on passenger numbers.

It was designed to service up to 50 million passengers a year when the third phase of the facility is completed in a few years time, but that this could be extended to up to 70 million passengers annually, he said.

“Of course we have considered the needs of the World Cup,” he said.

He said Qatar was currently constructing a second terminal building, referred to as phase three of HIA, and he revealed “all airlines will transfer to that building with the exception of Qatar Airlines”.

The project, which was started in 2005, comprises 100 buildings, including a 600,000sq m passenger terminal with three concourses and 33 contact gates. This will eventually be increased to five concourses and 65 contact gates, including eight for the A380 in the final build-out.

The terminal also features 16 lounges, 26 art installations, more than 100 food and beverage and retail outlets, transit hotel, swimming pool, luxury spa, squash courts and a 4-storey catering facility that is one of the largest in the world.

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