The number of passengers traveling through Hamad International Airport (HIA) this year has exceeded its capacity of 30 million, the airport said in a statement.
In the past 12 months including December, the airport served more than 30 million people.
This is up from the 26.3 million people who passed through during 2014, although the figures are not a direct comparison as HIA only became fully functional at the end of May 2014.
In its first full year of operations (from June 2014 until May 2015), HIA saw 28 million passengers use its facilities, according to government site Hukoomi.
In its latest statement, the airport did not give exact passenger numbers or a breakdown of arrivals, departures and transits during the year.
However, an official with airport operator Qatar Airways attributed the increase in passenger numbers to the addition of new destinations and aircraft, as well as “world class facilities and services we offer.”
Badr Al Meer, HIA’s chief operating officer, added:
“I am happy to report the significant increase in passenger numbers that Hamad International Airport has seen this year. Having served over 30 million passengers in one year which is significantly more than the previous year is no small feat.”
According to the latest monthly figures compiled by Qatar’s Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics (MDPS), just over 3.3 million passengers made their way through the airport last month, compared to nearly 2.8 million for the same month last year.
The November figures also state that there were just over 900,000 transfer passengers.
Compared to the same month last year, arrivals were up 15.3 percent year-on-year, departures up 17.5 percent and transfers increased by 19.1 percent.
However, last month’s passenger numbers were all lower than what Qatar saw in October 2015.
Still, the airport is currently designed to have a capacity for up to 30 million passengers and the latest figures show that it has now exceeded this capacity.
Some passengers say HIA is already starting to feel the strain, with long queues reported particularly in the arrivals terminal, particularly late in the evenings during holiday periods at immigration and passport control.
The airport 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.
Plans include doubling the size of the current passenger terminal by adding new check-in counters, lounges, restaurants and boarding gates, as well as building a connection to the Doha Metro. This work is expected to be completed in the next five years.
And last month, HIA announced that it is set to spend QR277 million (US$76.1 million) on work to reclaim land to build new taxiways on the northwest tip of the property so that the airport can handle more flights. That project is due for completion in 2017.
While 30 million passengers in one year might seem a lot, it’s less than half the 70 million passengers Dubai International Airport saw during 2014, according to figures compiled by the Airports Council International.
This made DXB the world’s sixth busiest airport last year in terms of passenger traffic.
Based on last year’s statistics, HIA would not be considered to be among the world’s top 50 airports with regards to passenger numbers.
For the past 15 years, the title for world’s busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic has gone to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the US. Just a few days ago, the airport welcomed its 100 millionth passenger of 2015.