Browsing 'hamad international airport' News

Damon McDonald/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Hamad International Airport (HIA) has been awarded five-star status by Skytrax.

This makes Qatar’s airport one of only six globally to be given the accolade, and the first in the Middle East to nab the honor.

Speaking to media yesterday, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker – whose airline manages the airport – said that HIA was “designed and built in the modern era, taking into account what passengers want most: convenience and service.”

The other Skytrax 5-star airports are Hong Kong International, Munich, Seoul Incheon, Singapore Changi and Tokyo Haneda.

Skytrax ranks HIA’s regional rival Abu Dhabi International as four-star, Dubai International is three stars.

Rating system

According to the Skytrax website, the London-based company rates airports via “a detailed quality analysis” of almost 500 “airport product and service items.”

Factors that are taken into account include departures, transfers, customer service, security, immigration, shopping outlets and food and beverage facilities.

However, Skytrax does not explain how the evaluations are carried out, or by whom. Its website states that this information is only disclosed to airport operators.

Long lines

Five-star Skytrax status notwithstanding, many passengers still appear to be lukewarm about Qatar’s airport experience.

In addition to its own ratings, Skytrax lists ratings for airports and airlines around the world on its website that are based on passenger feedback.

According to that, HIA is 6/10, putting it in the same group as airports like Hamburg, Hyderabad, Rotterdam and Malta.

@RoryWSJ / Twitter

@RoryWSJ / Twitter

Recent customer reviews on the Skytrax site give HIA high scores for cleanliness, WiFi connectivity and shopping options.

But the airport got poor marks for having long lines at immigration and security.

On Jan. 2, 2017,  passenger J. Grimshaw shared this experience of arriving at HIA:

“We waited almost 2.5 hours at immigration. It was an absolute disgrace. The lines were so long they exceeded the roped off queuing areas.

Mums and dads were struggling with exhausted children, carrying them for hours. We have never had such a bad experience.”

Other passengers describe the queues for transit travelers at security as “a nightmare, everyone in a rush and cramming through” and the queues at immigration as “a clear example of excellent infrastructure but (an) extraordinarily poorly managed airport.”

E-gate changes

Last year, Al Baker attributed the delays to staff shortages.

He said that his airline and the Ministry of Interior – whose staff man the immigration desks – were “trying to resolve the issue as a team.”

MOI

Egate service

In recent weeks, the MOI has made changes to the e-gate system so that expat travelers over the age of 18 no longer need to register and pay for the service.

This allows many people to skip immigration queues. However, adults traveling with children and expats without residence permits must still wait in line.

Thoughts?

The Flying Man by Dia al-Azzawi

Qatar Museums

The Flying Man by Dia al-Azzawi

Qatar’s airport has added two new sculptures to its public art collection that “celebrate traveling in the modern age.”

The Flying Man works by Iraqi artist Dia al-Azzawi have been set up in both the arrival and departure terminals of Hamad International.

In a statement, Qatar Museums said the art sits on “two tall cylinder sculptures inspired by the pillars that appeared in Mesopotamia, an ancient region, in the third century B.C.”

The Flying Man by Dia al-Azzawi

Qatar Museums

The Flying Man by Dia al-Azzawi

They were unveiled a few months after the launch of the artist’s retrospective exhibitions at the Arab Museum of Modern Art (Mathaf) and the Al Riwaq gallery off of the Corniche.

‘I am the cry’

The retrospective, titled I am the cry, who will give voice to me? will run for five months until April 17, 2017.

It includes paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints that chart the 50-year career of the modernist artist. Some of the items are being put on public display for the first time.

Al-Azzawi also has a carousel installation, Enchanted East, that launched at the MIA Park this summer.

MIA Park Carousel

Qatar Museums

The merry-go-round at the MIA Park

Also a functioning children’s ride, it features 40 designed animal “seats” that are inspired by the Museum of Islamic Art’s permanent collection.

Thoughts?

Hamad International Airport

Sanjiban Ghosh/Flickr

Hamad International Airport

A new visa scheme for travelers transiting through Hamad International Airport (HIA) goes online today (Nov. 1), Qatar Airways and the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) have announced.

The free 96-hour transit visa is available to all Qatar Airways passengers with layovers of five or more hours at HIA, regardless of nationality.

However, visas are granted based on the sole discretion of the Ministry of Interior, and must be applied for at least seven days in advance, Qatar Airways said in a statement yesterday.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Brian Candy/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The visa scheme was first announced in late September as a way to woo more tourists to Qatar.

But it took some time to implement, in part because Qatar Airways needed to restructure its fares so that stopovers in Doha don’t cost extra.

The new offering comes on the same day that HIA launched its people mover system.

The trains are expected to help arriving, departing and transiting passengers navigate the airport more swiftly.

How it works

Passengers can apply for their free transit visas through any Qatar Airways offices, or online here.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Having a ticket that shows an onward journey out of Qatar on a flight operated by the national carrier;
  • Holding a passport that is valid for at least six months from the time of arrival in Qatar; and
  • Sharing a valid email to facilitate the visa process.

The visa should be applied for between seven and 90 days before arriving in Qatar, excluding public holidays.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Jiseon Shin/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Once approved, the transit visa will be valid for 90 days from the date of issuance, for a single entry into Qatar.

Passengers must hold a copy of the pre-approved transit visa at the time of boarding at their airport of origin, as well as when arriving in Doha.

Notably, passengers traveling from Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Sudan, and the UAE can only stopover with the free visa while on their outward journey, not on the return.

Tourism push

The new transit visa comes at a time when tourism is flagging in Qatar, despite a push to grow the sector.

According to real estate firm DTZ, a 3 percent dip in visitor numbers this year has hurt the hospitality sector, contributing to falling occupancy and revenues.

In a statement yesterday, Hassan Al Ibrahim, QTA’s chief tourism development officer, said:

“Visa facilitation is an important factor in increasing the attractiveness of a destination, and we encourage investors and tourism business owners to capitalize on the opportunities presented by this development to diversify Qatar’s tourism products and services.”

Thoughts?