Qatar’s Hamad International Airport (HIA) is growing busier than ever before, with officials calling the first three months of 2016 a record-breaking period for the facility.
According to newly released figures, a total of 8.8 million passenger movements were recorded at HIA in January, February and March, a 20 percent increase from the same period last year.
The figures show that January was particularly busy, with 3.1 million passenger movements logged – a record month for the airport, which opened in 2014.
Statistics released last November showed that the previous record for the busiest month was August 2015, with a total of 3 million passenger movements.
The continual growth in passenger numbers at HIA has led to some difficulties during busy periods, with passengers reporting long lines at the airport’s immigration desks.
But in a statement today, Badr Mohammed Al Meer, COO of the airport, said that HIA is “in a position to handle more passengers.”
“With the activation of concourses D and E at HIA as well as the technological advancements being implemented in the terminal, we are in a position to handle more passengers, aircraft and cargo movements than ever before. We expect a steady growth in numbers for the remaining year as well,” he said.
HIA management has already announced plans to create more space as it eyes a capacity of 53 million passengers by 2020, ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
Work is also under way to extend Concourses D & E, which are currently only partially open.
These extended concourses will form “the new heart of the airport” and are expected to handle 60 percent of passenger traffic when completed.
The planned expansion will increase the size of the passenger terminal to more than 1 million square meters, nearly double the number of contact gates to 61 and bring the number of remote gates (which require bus transfers) to 14.
Different counting methods
HIA’s passenger figures are counted by tallying all individual arrivals and departures, meaning that those transferring between flights in Doha are counted twice.
A breakdown of the statistics published by the Qatar Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS) shows that the actual number of individual passengers using the airport is much lower.
For example, only 1.77 million people used the airport in February if transferring passengers are only counted once, according to MDPS figures.
That’s nearly 1 million less than the 2.72 million passengers recorded by HIA for the same month.
However, both methods of counting reveal that passenger numbers at the airport are constantly climbing – the statistics for February represented a 19 percent jump from the same month in 2015.