The first phase of the Hamad International Airport, formerly known as New Doha International Airport, is set to open on April 1, according to the airport’s operator, Qatar Airways.
The first phase of the $15.5bn (QAR 56.4bn) project involves 12 international passenger airlines, including budget carriers, who will begin operations at the new facility from the start of April.
Details of the soft launch opening were unveiled to an audience of more than 100 airport officials and airline executives in Doha at an event jointly organised by Qatar Airways, the Hamad International Airport's Operational Readiness and Airport Transition (ORAT) team and Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA).
Qatar Airways said it will move its entire operations to Hamad International Airport in the second half of the year and will work closely with the first movers to ensure a smooth transition of flights from the current Doha International Airport.
With the phased approach, Doha will have a dual airport operation until full operations begin at Hamad International in the second half of 2013.
Abdul Aziz Al Noami, QCAA chairman, said: “Hamad International Airport will truly be a global showpiece that the State of Qatar will justifiably be proud of. 2005 seems like only yesterday when the foundation stone was laid for work to start on the new airport project. Eight years on and we are just weeks away from the latest chapter in the airport's history with the start of operations.
"A new workplace and stunning architectural masterpiece will enhance the skyline of Doha providing new surroundings for airport employees and the travelling public from around the world,” he added.
Al Noaimi went on to explain that the cargo operations and catering facilities will be ready for operations within weeks. From March, freight forwarders and agents in Qatar will process import and export consignments at Hamad International Airport. Cargo uplift and arrivals will remain at Doha International Airport from where shipments will be transported by road to the new facility.
Cargo flights operated by Qatar Airways and other freighter companies are expected to begin to and from Hamad International from the summer. Al Noaimi explained the next few months will see the new catering facility open in phases at Hamad International, initially handling meals for airlines operating from the new airport. Starting in the summer the catering facility, capable of handling almost 100,000 meals a day, will supply meals for all flights operating from both airports.
“Trials of various facilities involving passengers and cargo have been in place for over six months. Mass trials involving hundreds of passengers at a time will soon begin at the passenger terminal complex of Hamad International ahead of the April opening,” Al Noaimi said.
Hamad International Airport will accommodate 28 million passengers annually when it opens this year, increasing to 50 million beyond 2015.
Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, said: “2013 is an historic year for the State of Qatar, Qatar Airways and the country's young aviation industry. Later this year, Qatar Airways will move its entire operations to Hamad International Airport, as all airport lounges are expected to be ready and fully operational by then ensuring that all our passengers have a truly world class experience that they fully deserve. These are exciting times for our aviation industry and the people of Qatar, so let us relish the moment,” he added.