Despite assurances that the new Hamad International Airport (HIA) would open by year-end, a 2014 launch is now planned, Qatar Airways has confirmed.
That means passengers looking forward to flying out of the much-delayed, state-of-the-art HIA in time for the winter holiday rush will have to wait a bit longer.
Speaking to media at a press conference to launch the airline’s inaugural flight to Chengdu in China yesterday, CEO Akbar Al Baker said the airport would open at the end of this year or early next year.
But the press office confirmed that the national carrier, which operates the HIA, confirmed the postponement to Doha News. The ongoing need to meet Civil Defense checks was one reason cited for the delay, though no further explanation was given.
The much-awaited HIA is considered a huge upgrade from the current, smaller Doha International Airport.
When fully operational in 2020, the multi-terminal airport and related facilities will stretch across 29 square kilometers and handle some 50 million passengers a year.
Doha’s current airport is increasingly operating at peak capacity, leading to long waiting times and an uncomfortable environment for passengers.
Complicating matters at the Arrivals Terminal is the recent closure of parts of the parking lot. A new carpark is expected to provide relief in October.
HIA, a $15.5 billion airport project, was originally slated for completion in 2009. Two official opening dates have come and gone in the last two years: Dec. 12, 2012 (12/12/12), and April 1, 2013.
When Al Baker announced the postponement of the Dec. 12, 2012 launch date, he blamed Lindner Depa Interiors for failing to complete several airport lounges on time.
Qatar Airways has since filed a $600 million lawsuit against the company. Lindner Depa said it was not able to meet its original completion deadline because it was denied full access to the project site for the first nine months of a 16-month contract.
The April 1, 2013 opening date was canceled at the eleventh hour after the airport failed Civil Defense checks. Al Baker blamed contractor Bechtel for this failure to meet safety requirements.
Credit: Photo courtesy of HIA
Note: This article has been updated to clarify that the airline confirmed Al Baker’s remarks that HIA will open in 2014.