Hamad International Airport, Qatar’s 5-Star gateway to the world, has been breaking good ground since its launch. Opening on May 27th, 2014, it has now been operating for seven years. While the airport celebrates its anniversary, let’s take a look at its key achievements in recent years.
Rising to the challenge
Before the global health crisis hit, HIA was going through a strong period of growth in passengers and airline partners, which allowed it to attract notable retail, art, and entertainment offerings. It was also investing heavily in technology to improve the experience for those passing through. Even following the rise of the pandemic, the airport didn’t slow down on new introductions. Rather, it reprioritized its technological investments.
Amid health and safety motives, the airport implemented UV disinfectant robots. These are fully autonomous mobile devices, which emit concentrated UVD light to reduce the number of microbes on a distance when effectively applied at the prescribed levels.
Other recent innovations include a detection system that utilizes artificial intelligence and computer vision technologies to automatically detect if staff at the airport are wearing masks. C2 security screening systems are also in place to allow passengers to move through security checkpoints without having to take out their electronic items from their luggage, thus avoiding the risk of cross-contamination through surfaces.
Altogether, these initiatives are part of the HIA’s plan to stick to its long-term goals while operating safely. Notably, between April 2020 and April 2021, it saw a 381% increase in year-on-year passenger traffic, 142% in aircraft movement, and a 70% incline in cargo movements.
Remaining in service
So, the airport has shown that it can stick with its overall strategy while adapting. It previously shared the following with Simple Flying.
“HIA has a solid business continuity plan in place that has helped it adapt to the current pandemic by prioritizing passenger and staff safety while minimizing the risk of infection among them. The airport’s efforts on this front were recently awarded an ISO 22301:2012 Business Continuity Management System Certification by the British Standards Institution (BSI). The award is a testament to HIA’s efforts to ensure operational continuity in the face of an unprecedented crisis, making it one of the first airports in the world to achieve this award.”
Importantly, as airlines and airports across the globe suspended operations during the spring of last year due to the challenges of the pandemic, HIA remained open for travelers to transit through. This move was crucial in helping passengers get home and reconnect with loved ones during the difficult conditions. It partnered well with Qatar Airways to repatriate millions of people last year. For instance, 150,000 seafarers were brought home and the airport even implemented a Mariner Lounge dedicated to those working in this field.
Currently, HIA is serving 142 destinations including bubble flights and is home to 33 airlines operating at the airport. The latest additions are Air Canada, Badr Airlines, and Vistara, all of which commenced operations in 2020.
Going forward, ahead of the highly-anticipated World Cup Qatar 2022, HIA is looking to increase its capacity to 58 million passengers per year with its airport expansion project. Following this, the airport is looking to ramp this number up even further to 60 million per year.
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Qatar’s airport is expanding to complement the growth of its national carrier, Qatar Airways, and the country’s diversification into tourism. The expansion will include an indoor tropical garden and water feature, more retail and dining options, and a lounge with spas, a gym, restaurants and business centers.
Nonetheless, it is keen to progress sustainably, pledging to improve carbon efficiency per traffic unit to 30%. It is also expanding on its efforts when it comes to wastewater management solutions.
Presently, HIA has a Level 3 certification Airport Council International’s Airport
Carbon Accreditation program. So, it is on the right track in regard to environmental targets. Overall, these goals fit in with the airport’s wider mission to grow while serving its passengers safely and sustainably.
From personal experience, the tailored and classy experience at HIA can be witnessed across the passenger journey. The crispness of the site can still be felt after seven years. The staff at the airport are attentive from check-in to boarding, and the service at the lounges is hard to match.
What are your thoughts about HIA’s progress? Let us know what you think in the comment section.