Qatar today opened a huge expansion of its main international airport as the national carrier’s chief hit back at ‘rumours’ that it could not cope with World Cup passengers.
At the centrepiece of the new terminal expansion at Hamad International Aiport is an indoor tropical garden featuring more than 300 different trees and 25,000 plants from around the world, as well as a large water feature.
After the multi-billion dollar overhaul, the airport will take its capacity from 40 million passengers a year to 58 million, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker told a news conference.
The expansion adds 39 airport gates to the existing 140 at the airport, which is a major hub for transit passengers.
The project was completed just 10 days from the start of the World Cup, which is expected to draw more than one million visitors to the Gulf state, the smallest ever host of the mega event.
Qatar has also been forced to reopen Doha International Airport to ease pressure.
Qatar Airways has also eliminated 18 destinations from its schedule to increase flights from key World Cup markets and to allow other airlines to run football charters.
Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways, dismissed suggestions that Qatar’s aviation authorities could not cope.
‘There have always been rumours,’ he said before insisting that ‘systems and innovations’ introduced for the World Cup had been tested.