Hamad International Airport was recently named the world’s best airport, but what does the public think?
The majority of Qatar’s public believes that Hamad International Airport [HIA] needs various adjustments in order to be fully prepared to welcome hundreds of thousands during the much-awaited World Cup, a Doha News survey revealed.
This month, the international airport was awarded the World’s Best Airport for the second year by the Skytrax 2022 World Airport Awards.
Spanning 22 km2, the spacious airport operates 41 contact gates and 65 remote stands (73 remote stands including MAGS). It currently serves over 39 million passengers per year with a 600,000m2 terminal, providing a luxurious experience for visitors landing at the facility.
The airport is also 12 times larger than the old airport. Despite the state-of-the-art features, locals in Qatar have identified areas in which improvements can be made.
Some 83% of those who took part in the survey agreed that HIA deserves its recent titles, though many still said the facility is not ready to welcome an expected influx of visitors in less than five months’ time.
Among the voter’s biggest concerns are limited check-in counters and long passport control lines. 53% of voters in Doha News’ survey said that the check-in counters at the airport are not enough, noting lines for flights are too long, especially in peak holiday seasons.
As for the ‘luxurious’ experience promised, many stated that lounges are full most of the time, leaving little to no space for visitors to relax while waiting for their flights.
“The lounges are always packed. They’re too small for the airport capacity and even the food options are very limited and pricey,” one resident said.
As Qatar’s tourism sector continues to grow, the influx of numbers poses a challenge for the airport. With the small drop-off and pick-up road sections at the doors of the facility, many find themselves stuck in long lines of traffic.
In an effort to tackle the issue, authorities earlier this year announced curb-side departure and arrival drop offs would be limited to authorised vehicles only, diverting the remaining traffic to parking spaces.
However, voters (74%) said that this would lead to more traffic and results in a longer time to reach the gate.
Influx of fans
With some five months to World Cup kick off in November, Qatar has already seen a spike in the number of visitors over the past year.
During April, Doha had one of the largest volumes of scheduled airline seats in the region, according to new data by a global travel data provider.
The Gulf state was also ranked sixth in the Airports Council International (ACI) 2021 report in the top ten airports with the highest international patronage (17,701,978), only behind Dubai, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Paris airports.
Starting November, the country is also expecting to receive more than one million fans from around the world, posing serious questions on how this will be managed by authorities.