Qatar's new airport has welcomed its first cargo shipment.
And it has been reported passenger operations at the much-delayed $15.5bn facility could get underway next month
Qatar Airways have said that a shipment for Qatar Petroleum was transferred from Europe to Doha at the new Hamad International Airport on December 1.
“Today marks a historic moment, not just for Hamad International Airport, but also for Qatar Airways Cargo,” a Qatar Airways spokesperson said in a statement.
“The cargo terminal complex at HIA will play a significant role in expanding our global cargo business and propels Doha as the preferred cargo hub in the region, as a result of its sophisticated cargo infrastructure and capacity.”
The new 77,000m2, two-level cargo terminal - one of the largest in the world - has the capacity to move 5,700 shipments simultaneously and handle 1.4m tonnes of cargo per annum by 2015 - up 75% on capacity at the existing airport.
The statement makes no mention of when passenger operations will begin.
However, Qatar transport minister Jassim Seif Ahmed Al Sulaiti was quoted by the Gulf Times as saying Hamad International Airport will start passenger operations in January.
A ‘soft’ opening of the airport’s passenger operations will see 10 airlines, including Air Arabia, flydubai and RAK Airways, operate out of Concourse B.
The project was initially due to open three years ago, but has missed a series of opening dates, with the most recent being April 1 this year.
Recent reports quoted Akbar Al Baker, CEO Qatar Airways and Doha International Airport, as stating that the airport will not begin operations until 2014.
Speaking to Construction Week, Welch said: “It’s going through the certification process with the authorities. The start-up teams are operating, the contractors working on our portion of the scope are finishing up their punch lists very rapidly.
"The client would need to decide when they want to open it but it will be ready any time they wish to do that.”