Qatar has announced plans to recommission its old airport for a four week period during the FIFA World Cup 2022 in order to cope with an expected massive influx of visitors to the tiny Persian Gulf country. The news comes less than 24-hours after the country revealed ambitious development plans for the country’s main entry point at Hamad International Airport (HIA) which will see capacity double to 60 million passengers per year.
The old airport, which is officially known as Doha International Airport (DIA), was closed in 2014 but still serves as an auxiliary site for military operations, as well as royal and charter flights. The airport is located next to HIA but has its own single 4,570-metre runway. When it was decommissioned, DIA was handling more than 12-million passengers a year – well in excess of the numbers it was designed to handle.
“We have decided to commission DIA back in action for four weeks during the FIFA World Cup because we intend to take the general aviation, the point to point traffic, back into DIA,” explained Sujata Suri, Qatar Airways’ VP of strategy and customer experience at a press conference in the Qatari capital yesterday.
While work will be needed to get the passenger terminal fully functioning again, Suri claims they are well prepared.
“The old airport is very much being used,” she explained. “Qatar Airways still runs its general aviation operations out of there. A large part of the Amiri flight operations also functions out of there. The military has taken over the eastern part of the runway for development for the military aircraft the country is going to acquire over the next few years.”
During yesterday’s press conference, officials revealed ambitious plans to eventually expand passenger capacity at HIA to 60 million passengers a year. Construction on ‘Phase A’ of the expansion will start early next year and should be complete in time for the 2022 World Cup, pushing capacity to 53 million passengers.
Phase B will then get underway, extending concourses D and E in order to double today’s capacity of 30 million passengers annually to 60 million.
The expansion will feature a landmark 10,000 square metre indoor tropical garden, as well as a 268 square metre water feature reminiscent of the spectacular ‘Jewel’ at Singapore Changi Airport. Akbar Al Baker, has dismissed accusations that Qatar stole the idea from Singapore, insisting instead that employees who had developed the idea for Qatar moved to Singapore and copied the plans.
The whole expansion project is expected to be completed by 2023.