Updated at 12:25 to include Akbar Al Baker’s comments on premium lounges at the new airport.
A handful of larger carriers will start operating out of Qatar’s new Hamad International Airport on May 22, according to an announcement posted in today’s newspapers.
Effective Thursday, Oman Air, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Lufthansa and Air France-KLM will join 15 other airlines that have already begun flying in and out of the new airport.
The first 10 carriers shifted to HIA on April 30, during the long-awaited soft launch of the $15 billion airport. They are:
- Air Arabia;
- Air India Express;
- Biman Bangladesh Airlines;
- Iran Air;
- Nepal Airlines;
- Pakistan International Airlines;
- Pegasus Airlines;
- Syrian Air; and
Five more airlines began operations last week:
- Etihad Airways;
- Royal Jordanian;
- Sri Lankan Airlines;
- Kuwait Airways; and
- United Bangladesh
Speaking to Doha News today, a Doha International Airport spokesman said that more airlines will likely be shifted over to the new airport before the full opening on May 27, when national carrier Qatar Airways is expected to make the move.
Business lounge status
However, the carrier’s CEO, Akbar Al Baker, was quoted as saying the new premium passenger lounges will not open for another two months. Speaking to Business Traveller, he said:
“The first and business class lounges are not ready yet. It is such a complicated and high-end (operation) that the contractor is having difficulty keeping up with the kind of finishes we want.”
In the meantime, Al Baker added, business and first passengers “will be accommodated in lounges we already have and if we find the capacity is getting filled we have vouchers for them to use.”
Legal wrangling over the $245 million worth of construction contracts to build the airport’s lounges was one of several factors cited over the years for the delay in opening the new airport.
Al Baker also added in the interview that the facility’s multiple missed deadlines resulted in the airline losing out on $650 million in revenues annually.
Qatar Airways is being forced to move to the new airport, despite its unfinished premium lounges, to avoid delays to the deliveries of its new massive Airbus A380s, the airline’s CEO said.
Because many airlines and passengers have been given only a few days notice about these changes, some have complained of being confused about where to go.
For those wondering where their flights will be taking off from, a real-time schedule of departures is available on HIA’s website here. There is also a free shuttle service that runs between airports.