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Wed 5 Dec 2012 11:16 AM

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Delayed Doha airport will not “fail” like Berlin Brandenburg – Al Baker

Issues at Berlin were down to a lack of coordination, the Qatar Airways boss said

Delayed Doha airport will not “fail” like Berlin Brandenburg – Al Baker
Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways

Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, has stated categorically that the issues which have led to the ongoing delays at Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport will not be repeated at Doha International Airport, despite the new facility missing its anticipated opening date this month.

“I will tell you something, the issue with Berlin is not going to happen in Doha airport because the systems that meant Brandenburg airport to fail was no coordination between several systems,” Al Baker said when asked if the delayed opening at Doha airport would be as bad as that witnessed in Berlin.

“At Doha International Airport the Chairman of the Civil Aviation has made sure that everything that is going to take place is properly coordinated and, for your information, we are already testing the systems for the last eight months.

“The reason we have the delay is not because there was any issue with systems. It is because one of the contractors failed us and that is why the delay has happened, it is nothing to do with similarities with Brandenburg and Doha International,” he added.

Doha International Airport was scheduled to open this month but the official inauguration has been delayed after it was revealed in May that Lindner Depa, a joint venture between Dubai-based interiors firm Depa and Germany's Lindner, had its 900-million dirhams (US$245.03m) contract terminated,

The contract to fit out the 17 lounges at the new $15.5 billion airport was the largest project in the Nasdaq Dubai-listed firm's backlog.

Depa, which is now in a legal battle with airport authorities, said the contract was pulled after Lindner Depa's "refusal to accept new and non-favourable contract terms and conditions ... after being denied full access to the project site to perform its contract scope of work."

The new Doha airport is 98 percent complete and US$15bn has so far been spent on its development, which will have a capacity to handle up to 48m passengers when complete, airport officials told Arabian Business during a tour of the new facility.

Al Baker’s positivity reinforces Doha officials’ aim to avoid the ongoing, high profile failures which have been experienced at Berlin’s new airport.

The Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport, which is being built at a cost of €2.5bn (US$3.2bn), has already been delayed twice and the opening has now been pushed back to at least March 2013.

The government-backed airport was to replace Berlin’s three existing airports and was to be the main hub for airberlin, Germany’s second biggest airline.

Jürgen Pieper, an analyst at private bank Metzler, estimated the delays were costing loss-making airberlin, in which Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways owns a 29 percent stake,  around $6m a month, the Spiegel German news agency reported.

While CEO Hartmut Mehdorn refused to confirm the exact figure, he dismissed the situation as “a mess” and said the carrier would pursue legal action if it was adequately compensated for the losses it has incurred.

“We are in talks with the Berlin Brandenburg Airport. We think they have to reimburse… if they don’t do this we go to court,” he said in an interview at the carrier’s headquarters in Berlin in September.

Mehdorn also dismissed reports which have suggested the delays are due to fire-safety tests which needed to be completed and blamed the government inadequacy for pushing back of the official opening.

“It is not the fire regulations. It is a big mess… It is politicians trying to build an airport. They should let guys who know about airports to build big projects.

“There are 82 million Germans available and I bet you will find 20 who have enough experience in constructing such as airport. Politicians are short-term thinkers and they just think about re-election and nothing else,” he said.

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Ulevpri 7 years ago

I am sorry to say this, but why this Gentlemen believes to know somehing about what happened in Berlin?
He has no clue, and as a saying in Germany... if you have no clue just keep your mouth shut.
Countries like his own don't know anything about organisation and coordination... please do the public a favour and educate yourself first properly before you try to compete with a -in many major industries- world leading country!!!

Qatari 7 years ago

His country owns stakes in your country's "major industries", his country is competing in a global free market through airline industry with countries like yours trying to bring him down with them, and as a saying we have in Arabic, if you are stabbed in the back then you are certainly in the front.
We support you Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways. We will give the world a lesson in the airline industry.

procan 7 years ago

Spot on Ulevpri ,Al Baker never misses a chance to show his true colours.

Ulevpri 7 years ago

Of course his country is owing stakes in our country.. who of you guys don't like to drive our cars? Airport Frankfurt was the leading Airport at times where Qatar only started to built proper roads... so what? They owing stakes to get a little knowledge about our work attitude, organization and discipline, which is giving the "Stakeholders" still no right to think they are better now!

Jake 7 years ago

Qatari, with all due respect for the latest achievements. You are certainly not competing in an open market. Just like the UAE, you have 1 industry, where you like to boast about free markets and how everyone should look at your advances, all other aspects are either controlled by government entities or monopolies. BBA has been a failure, no doubt about it. But Doha is delayed, without the many hurdles we faced. I'd love to see the environmental impact studies or the petitions of residents or the labourers striking, oh right, neither is really a concern. Don't compare Shawarma with Frankfurter...

Grant Holt 7 years ago

Qatari, you may have a excellent airline, but this was about your much delayed airport.

Plus I love your sarcasim about the free market Qataris operate in outside their country, very witty!

Eddie 7 years ago

I'm lucky enough to be working on the NDIA and can ssure you they are still a long way away from becoming operational. It has nothing to do with Lindner Depa being placed in default. Its the system that has failed. The resources Qatar needs to accomplish its projects are simply not available due to monopolies on steel, cement, diesel and other materials and visa restrictions and labour bans still in force. The same project would have been executed and completed in Dubai in 4 years max. The project has been running for 8 and is nowhere near completion yet. Qatar also lacks a visionary leader like Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai and one who is bold enough to make decisions quickly enough to ensure projects are completed on time. On the contrary, projects continue to be hampered by bureaucracy and red tape.

Qatari 7 years ago

@Jake, your talking about environmental impact studies and labor strikes, which have no connection to what is said here. Not that I can't debate with you on that but for the sake of the readers lets stay on one topic. Looking back in the airlines history, we can see that Air France and Lufthansa were controlled by their governments for 57 and 29 years respectively. Qatar Airways was only founded in 1996. Your argument in invalid. I hope you all have a good experience with New Doha International Airport in March 2013. After all you know who to blame for the delay, it is clearly said above "one of the contractors failed us and that is why the delay has happened".

marsrover 7 years ago

98% complete?
Really? Where did this fugure com from?
this is Shoddy journalism at best!
If it was 98% complete it would probably be operationaly by now with some 2% of snags!
Some reports suggest that there is easily 18 months to 2 years left to go on the NDIA project for some of the reasons outlined by Eddie.
2 years to carry out 2% of the works???

Runway King 7 years ago

Having worked on the said project along with Dubai International , Jebel Ali , Heathrow T5 and Chep lap Kok i can speak with over 20 years of experience in airport construction. The only people involved with the delay of the N.D.I.A is the N.D.I.A and Qatar .

Countless design changes and failure to push forward and make quick desicions has been paramount to treble the original cost and treble the original time frame for construction.
Contractors have been banginf their heads against the wall for years on this project at the inability for quick desicions .

Al Baker's language as usual shows exactly what people in the contracting business have to put up with working in Qatar . Arrogance and ignorance are dangerous traits when coupled with never ending pots of cash .