Work on new Doha airport still ongoing – subcontractor

Work on walls is ongoing and will take until at least the end of May to finish
Work on new Doha airport still ongoing – subcontractor
By Francesca Astorri
Sun 12 May 2013 11:17 AM

Doha’s much-delayed Hamad International Airport (HIA), which was set to open on April 1, has still not completed work on some of the main walls at the $15.5bn project, but is on course to complete them by the end of the month, a leading contractor told Arabian Business.

Arabian Profile Company Limited (APL), a subcontractor on the main building of the airport, signed a QR150m (US$41m) contract to build the composite aluminium-cladded walls at the airport. A senior company executive said work was still ongoing at the airport and unlikely to be completed until the end of this month as the firm had been assigned more and more work to complete by the main contractor.

“We were involved in the project from the very beginning. The works started in 2008 and they have been going on until today. We almost finished but every week we still get work and more requests from the main contractor for the airport project,” Harald Halvorsen, director of APL, told Arabian Business on the sidelines of the Project Qatar exhibition.

“We received five new requests in the last few weeks, but we should be finishing our work by the end of this month” Halvorsen added.

The wall being built by APL had to be air and water infiltration tested under pressure and required 6mm thick composite aluminum panels.

The $15.5bn new Doha airport was originally set to open on April 1 after three years of delays and postponed openings.

The inauguration was cancelled at the last minute because the project had not met the new safety standards set by the Civil Defense, but the head of Qatar Airways has blamed a US contractor for the further delay.

In comments reported by Dow Jones, Akbar Al Baker said that San Francisco-based Bechtel – the main contractor for HIA - had been “complacent” in meeting the regulatory requirements put in place by both the airline and the country’s civil aviation authority. “They [Bechtel] have to be blamed… for our delay in the first place,” Al Baker said.

In December last year, Qatar Airways said it would file a $600m legal claim against German-Emirati joint venture contractor Lindner Depa Interiors (LDI) for allegedly delaying HIA by up to a year.

The Gulf carrier said in a statement that LDI had undertaken to complete the construction of 19 airport lounges by the summer of 2012 in a contract worth over $250m, but failed to complete the project on time.

Qatar Airways, set to be the airport operator, claimed LDI had "badly defaulted" with the delayed airport opening seriously affecting the airline’s expansion plans, causing huge revenue losses, increased construction costs and delay penalties, and more importantly, inconveniencing passengers.

At the time, LDI said it was "deeply disappointed" by the allegations made by Qatar Airways and rebutted all claims.

"LDI was denied full access to the project site for the first nine months of the 16-month project. This delay, combined with NDIA’s refusal to pay acceleration costs recommended by its own management consultancy, meant LDI was unable to start all interior contracting work on site as planned. As a result, LDI was unable to meet its original contract completion date," it added.

Doha's new airport was originally scheduled to open three years ago, but has faced numerous delays as a result of disputes with the contractors. Flights from HIA were set to begin on 12 December 2012, before being postponed to the most recent date of April 1.

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