Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, unveiled plans for its two-phase expansion project during the annual real estate investors exhibition Cityscape Qatar 2019. The expansion project will feature a 10,000-sq-m (107,600-sq-ft) indoor tropical garden in a central concourse and a 268-sq-m water feature as the project’s highlight. The expansion project will be done in two phases. Phase A construction, to begin by early 2020, will increase the airport’s capacity from its initial 29 million to more than 53 million passengers annually by 2022; Phase B, to be completed by 2022, will extend passenger capacity to more than 60 million annually.
In addition to enhancing passenger capacity, the expansion will include 11,720 sq m of landscaped retail, leisure, dining, and hospitality offerings that combine world-class art collections with lush tropical elements. The new spaces will include restaurants, gymnasiums, spas, business centers, as well as other amenities. The flora for the indoor tropical garden will be sourced from sustainable forests from around the world, and parts of the roof will be constructed with performance glass that controls and filters light required for the flora's natural growth.
Qatar Airways group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, said, “The expansion of Hamad International Airport is a vital part of the future of success of the Qatar Airways Group, and of course the country's preparations to host the 2022 World Cup and beyond. It is also a strong sign that Qatar's economy is robust and acts as a further economic stimulus, providing excellent opportunities for local and international contractors. Plans for the expansion focus on capacity and passenger experience—we want to provide even better airport journeys to more people around the world. The expansion will allow us to do this.”
Other features of the expansion include a new transfer area to help shorten passengers' connection times and improve overall transfer experience, as well as a central concourse that will accommodate nine additional widebody aircraft gates. On the cargo side, the expansion will see the construction of a new cargo terminal slated to handle an increased capacity to an estimated 3.2 million metric tons per year.
As Qatar Airways is also the official operator of Hamad International Airport, AIN asked how the new expansion would affect the market for other airline operators. Al Baker responded: “Our market is open for any airline that wants to come, and we have attractive packages for airlines that want to start operating into Hamad International Airport. The airport is run as a separate, independent company, and we do not influence how the airport is run by its management. I hope that in the not-too-distant future, every country that wants to come to Doha will be able to do so.”
Airport facility expansions aside, HAI is also undergoing biometric testing and upgrades as part of its innovative Smart Airport program. The upgrades will be introducing state-of-the-art facial biometric recognition across all key passenger touch points, including biometric self check-ins, biometric self backdrops, biometric security entrance checks, and biometric border control. This upgrade will also be enhanced by an augmented reality app to assist with passenger experience. The final round of system tests is scheduled to be concluded by year-end.
HIA has served more than 187 million passengers since opening in 2014.