Photos by Chantelle D’Mello
Ten airlines began operating from the airport on April 30. Four more, including UAE-based Etihad Airways, moved to HIA yesterday, and an additional Bangladeshi carrier, United Airways, commences operations out of the new airport today.
All other airlines, including Qatar Airways, are set to fly out of the new airport on May 27. DIA is expected to close to passenger traffic on this date.
Yesterday, Duty Terminal Manager Mohamed Al Mousa told Doha News that some passengers had been turning up at the wrong airport:
“Some people were confused and showed up here, at the old airport, but that was only on the first two days after the new airport opened,” he said.
He added that things were “now running smoothly” and that no more confusion among passengers had been reported.
However, two passengers who spoke to Doha News yesterday spoke of experiencing difficulties this week.
The pair had been scheduled to board a 9:55am Etihad Airways flight to Abu Dhabi yesterday, and arrived at DIA at 8:45am. There, they were told they needed to report to HIA. Speaking to Doha News, one passenger said:
“Our ticket said that our flight was to depart from the old airport, so we came down here, and now we have to go to the new airport to not miss our flight.”
One way to avoid future confusion may be to check the airport’s website – this has listed the Etihad flight as taking off from HIA.
Despite the confusion, many passengers flying in and out of HIA said they were impressed by the size and design of the new airport. Speaking to Doha News, Barkha Malhotra, who arrived with her colleagues on a Fly Dubai flight, said:
“It looks great. We liked it very much. The older airport was congested, and facilities like the eye scan never worked for me. Here, the process was much smoother and quicker.”
Other passengers, including a group of Nepalese workers, echoed the similar sentiment, saying “We had no problems entering; the flight and immigration process was smooth.”
Although HIA is due to become fully operational at the end of this month, most of the airport’s 80 shops and 30 eateries remain closed.
Currently, there are three branches of Jamocha Cafe, a 24/7 convenience store, and a few Qatar Duty Free shops open for business.
Malhotra also pointed out a lack of rental cars at the new airport:
“Most of the cars here are sedan cars, which are unable to carry four of us and our luggage to the Sheraton,” she said. “My colleagues had to rent a car to take them to the old airport, where they were able to rent a larger SUV.”
The problem, according to AVIS rent-a-car representative Terry Comson, stems from a lack of allotted spaces at the new airport. Currently, the six rent-a-car companies are only allocated spaces for five cars each, and most of these cars are sedans, she told Doha News.
“There isn’t a high demand for larger cars or SUVs, so we don’t stock them here,” she added.
For now, should a larger car be required, the passenger would either have to wait for the car to be transported from the old airport, or would have to pick it up from the old airport themselves.
But more rental cars will move to HIA on May 27, Comsom said.
A number of companies and airlines, including Qatar Airways, were seen working at the new airport yesterday.
Teams of Qatar Airways ground staff were sent to HIA on a work visit to be familiarized with the facility before the airline officially begins flights there at the end of this month.
Have you traveled through the new airport yet? Thoughts?
Note: Information gleaned during an interview with one airport official and maintenance staff has been deleted from this post because the reporters did not properly identify themselves as media.