As the Eid holiday comes to a close, tens of thousands of residents traveling abroad are making their way back to Qatar.
Speaking to Doha News, a spokesman at the Doha International Airport said some 45,000 people are flying into the DIA this weekend, and 50,000 more are expected next weekend.
The numbers were not categorized into residents and tourists, but earlier this month, some 250,000 passengers were estimated to have left for Eid holidays. And because the public sector officially returns to work tomorrow, much of the incoming traffic is expected to be comprised of people who call Doha home.
The sudden influx of passengers at the Arrivals Terminal – initially a temporary structure erected to ease congestion at the DIA – has not gone unnoticed. Over the weekend, several residents on Twitter have complained about encountering traffic jams and parking problems when picking up relatives and friends:
@dohanews avoid the airport! Uncontrolled parking chaos!— Martin Hughes (@martindhughes)
@dohanews I was just there. I had to park like in Wakra (figuratively, of course).— Tejas Kumar (@TejasKumar_)
Before Eid, the DIA warned residents about a parking crunch, as a large section of the area was appropriated for metro construction. A new parking structure is expected to open in October, but until then, officials are asking for patience.
Speaking to the Qatar Tribune, DIA spokesman Abd al Aziz al Mas said:
“DIA is currently operating at its peak capacity…
The public is encouraged to pay attention to the signage and guidelines security personnel provide so that they can take the correct lanes leading to the available parking spots, even if it is not near the arrival terminal.”
This summer, congestion at the DIA has been particularly acute. The airport saw 21 million passengers last year (a 17 percent jump from 2011), and was expecting to lighten its load with the opening of the new, much-larger Hamad International Airport in April.
But that date was postponed after the state-of-the-art facility failed to meet government safety checks.
It is not yet clear what the fate of the Arrivals Terminal will be after the HIA finally opens (now forecast for December).
Are you flying into Doha this week? What have your experiences been?
Credit: Photo for illustrative purposes only by Daniele Muscetta