Passenger numbers at the Doha International Airport (DIA) have continued to climb in recent weeks, but relief is in sight as the new Hamad International Airport prepares for a soft opening on Wednesday.
Figures issued by the DIA show an increase of 13.8 percent of the number of people arriving at, departing from and transiting through the airport in March 2014, compared with the same month last year.
The March figures also reflect a one percent growth of passenger numbers from February, which were up 12.45 percent from the same time last year.
The numbers represent the increasing pressure on the DIA to accommodate Qatar’s rapid growth as a regional aviation hub.
In total, more than six million passengers have already traveled through the airport in the first quarter of this year – with nearly 2.88 million flying through Doha in March alone. Of those, nearly 1.08 million people arrived at the airport, 1.06 departed from it and there were 737,000 transit passengers.
New airport opening
The airport’s first commercial flight – expected to be a Fly Dubai service – is due to land at 11:15am on Wednesday.
The $15.5 billion airport was supposed to be completed in 2009, and has missed several opening deadlines since then, including on Dec. 12, 2012 (12/12/12) and April 1, 2013, when the launch was scrapped an hour before a plane was set to land there.
The exact reason for the delays remains unclear, though last year, Civil Defense safety approvals were not met. More recently, officials have suggested that the airport’s premium facilities and lounges were awaiting completion.
Fate of DIA
In November, DIA executive vice-president Patrick Muller told Doha News that the overtaxed airport was nearing “the end of its lifespan.”
He added that once the HIA becomes operational, military aircraft and helicopters would continue to use the DIA for the foreseeable future.
However, he did not know what would happen to the passenger terminals once they are no longer in use. The terminals are owned by Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority.
Are you looking forward to flying out of the new airport?