By Robeel Haq
Qatar has emerged as one of the greatest assets for Middle East aviation, explains His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Noaimi, Chairman of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority.
Qatar has been invested a significant amount to develop its aviation industry in the past five years. What has led to this situation?
The development is the result of the need to enhance the transportation infrastructure to support the country’s growth. The new airport is a huge development project that turns Doha into a key business station in the Middle East. It will contribute to an increase in international aviation traffic and enhance the position of the state of Qatar as a global gateway and home base for our national carrier Qatar Airways, as well as a hub for freight and aircraft maintenance. This has been accompanied by economic development, a rise in construction activity and the adoption of new income sources, including ports, petrochemical industries, educational campuses and manufacturing industries accompanied with foreign investment of billions of dollars.
What makes Qatar ideal as a global aviation hub?
The old airport witnessed a high growth in passenger and cargo levels in recent years and the terminal suffered overcapacity. This rapid growth was mainly brought by the fast expansion of Qatar’s state airline, Qatar Airways. Other growth came from the booming economy of Qatar. The New Doha International Airport’s planning took place in 2003 and construction began in 2004 and the first two phases are scheduled to open in January 2012 while the third and final phase is scheduled for 2015. The airport will be built over 22 square kilometres, of which half is on reclaimed land.
The passenger terminal is designed so that all passenger transfers can occur under one roof. With short walking distances between gates and shorter connection times between flights, it will make an ideal hub airport with a pleasant passenger transfer experience within the facility. In addition to this, passenger processing and queuing times are designed to meet or exceed the IATA recommendations for world class airports. In addition, it is well positioned to serve air traffic in the Middle East as well as an international hub between Europe/America and Asia/Australia.
The facilities of NDIA, can handle 24 million passengers per annum, and will be capable of handling about 50 million passengers a year when it is fully completed in 2015. In our view, the concept of competition is not limited to airline commercial operations only, but it’s also applicable to airports as they play a very important direct and indirect role in attracting people and business to the country.
What have been the biggest aviation achievements for Qatar to date?
Qatar Airways, our pride, has been one of the world’s fastest growing airlines since the airline was launched in 1994. Qatar Airways flies to 85 destinations with a fleet of 88 aircraft. During the coming three years, Qatar Airways plans to increase its destinations to 120 cities, and the number of its aircraft to 120. It is anticipated that Qatar Airways will be carrying 14 million passengers by the end of the year that ends in March 2011.
What is the importance of having an event such as Doha Aviation Summit?
Today, Qatar plays a major role on both the diplomatic and economic level. Within this framework, Qatar has hosted many international and regional conventions and exhibitions. Qatar supports the opening up of opportunities for growth between the Arab states and the international aviation market. We are proud to have recently hosted this important and timely gathering of aviation thought leaders from around the globe discussing the most pressing issues facing the industry.
Why did your organisation decide to support this event and what do you feel it achieved?
The summit gathered together leaders in international and regional aviation to discuss current challenges facing the industry and determine future strategy. The event was presented as a series of lively and interactive panel discussions covering the topics of green aviation, alternative fuels, open skies, air traffic control, lessons learned from the volcanic ash cloud over Europe, human resources, route management, cross-border partnerships, aviation financing and the IT revolution in the aviation industry. Important lessons were learned.