HIA - Qatar’s new gateway to the world
Written by Oryx
Qatar Airways moves to the innovative new Hamad International Airport as part of what even by Qatar Airways standards is shaping up as a record year. The move into the airline’s new home at the purpose-built Hamad International Airport, as well as the delivery of Qatar Airways’ first A380 in another year of record aircraft orders, marks 2014 as a genuine milestone year for Qatar Airways.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer, His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker, observed that Qatar Airways is “committed to offering our customers the best possible experience when it comes to travelling with the airline, not only in terms of custom-built comfort features across all of our cabins, but with the continued expansion of our young and modern fleet”.
The key to this, of course, is the airline’s new home at Hamad International Airport.
Ambitious and progressive, Hamad International Airport (HIA) will transform the travelling experience for millions of passengers by offering world-class travel efficiency and the highest possible standards of passenger care while setting new benchmarks for airports globally.
Combining progressive design, highly advanced technology, insight from Qatar Airways, and years of expert planning, HIA’s construction is one of the largest mega-projects in the world, and is the result of innovative engineering and design. It is also the first airport in the world built specifically to handle the A380, boasting dual-level gates purpose-built for the super jumbo. With 138 check-in counters, and 65 gates across five separate terminal concourse buildings when fully completed, the airport will also be able to handle passenger traffic aboard the aforementioned Airbus A380 at six gates. The airport, which is a major investment by Qatar, is located on a vast expanse of reclaimed land, and will at its peak be able to handle some 50 million passengers a year, 2.5 million tonnes of cargo and an astounding 360,000 flights each year.
HIA has also been designed to take full advantage of the very latest advancements in security, communications, and passenger and cargo handling. Yet a smooth passage through the airport is just one facet of Qatar Airways’ service offering. The airline – which already holds numerous awards for its world-first dedicated Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport, for example – has built upon that knowledge to create spaces that fulfil the needs of the modern traveller, whichever cabin they fly in.
One aspect that passengers will observe is that wherever groups converge, such as at check-in counters, the undulating ceiling rises to maintain a feeling of space and comfort. Then there are also the two hotels, and the art programme in association with Qatar Museums Authority, which has 28 installations throughout HIA.
In its commitment to best serve passengers, those passing through Hamad International Airport will be able to choose from a combination of Qatar Duty Free-own-branded concepts, joint ventures, and concession-based outlets that offer quality and choice to suit every pocket and palate. Fitting its status as a global hub, a wide variety of products will be on offer, including everything from luxury watches, cosmetics, gadgets and bestselling items to toys, all as part of a retail space covering some 25,000m2.
The energy-efficient main terminal will be Doha’s largest building at 350,000m2, with features such as solar-resistant coatings, overhangs to create shade, carbon dioxide sensors, and occupancy monitors. Contained within this will be check-in and duty-free shopping areas 12 times larger than those at the current airport.
And while Qatar Airways is excited to be continuing its expansion, the airline is also seeking to continually increase the quality of its offerings in lockstep with its growth. With 11 route launches joining the network this year, taking the total to 144, Qatar Airways is determined to accommodate that expansion with what has come to be expected: uncompromising 5-star facilities on a global network.
In addition, in keeping with its 5-star service offering, only last month Qatar Airways launched a first-of-its-kind, daily, all-premium Business Class service from its hub in Doha to London Heathrow – where Heathrow houses Qatar Airways’ first Premium Lounge outside of Doha.
Utilising an Airbus A319 fitted with a 40-seat, all-Business Class configuration, the A319 Business One boasts wide seats that recline into fully flat beds, each possessing a state-of-the-art Oryx entertainment system with more than 900 entertainment options including movies, television programmes, video games, and music.
Perhaps nothing better signifies Qatar Airways’ growth though than the arrival of its first Airbus A380 at the start of June, of which 12 more are on order. The A380 will be fitted in a tri-class configuration with seats in First Class, Business Class, and Economy Class. The first route will be to London, and is expected to commence this month.
The onboard lounge of Qatar Airways’ A380 has been designed to offer an escape from the typical aeroplane environment, developed to help the passengers feel part of their own executive club, and the First Class bathrooms create a spa-like warmth with contemporary clean lines and luxurious amenities.
This is complemented by a vast vaulted-ceiling cabin and the most comfortable seats in the industry, each offering the award-winning iTouch touch control unit – with access to more than 1,000 entertainment options, an iPort, USB port, remote data outlet, and luxurious personal cabin storage space – all available to passengers in all three classes.
If that isn’t sufficient to whet the appetite to travel aboard Qatar Airways’ industry-leading fleet, consider the dining options put forth by the four international chefs Nobu Matsuhisa, Tom Aikens, Ramzi Choueiri, and Vineet Bhatia – each of whom has made their mark in creating sophisticated and mouth-watering dining experiences. All of these benefits/amenities contribute to Qatar Airways’ goal of ensuring that every passenger has a 5-star experience, from the moment of booking to the time they reach their destination.
Later this year HIA will also be home to the new Airbus A350 XWB, for which Qatar Airways will serve as the world’s launch customer. Featuring the very latest in aerodynamics, design, and advanced technologies, these highly efficient aircraft provide better fuel efficiency of up to 25% and are scheduled to enter into commercial service in the fourth quarter of this year. The airline has ordered 80 aircraft to date, leaning toward the larger A350-900 and A350-1000 models, which better suit its business model and passenger requirements.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer, His Excellency, Mr Akbar Al Baker, said: “2014 will undoubtedly be a record year for Qatar Airways as we have experienced an unprecedented amount of growth both commercially and operationally. The opening of our new state-of-the-art airport, HIA, the addition of the A380, A319 Business One, and the A350, and the launch of our new routes are providing us with the step change necessary to continue the expansion of our operations and to meet our customers’ needs. The growth and expansion that we have experienced over the last 17 years means that we have essentially outgrown our current home. Now, it is time for us to move to HIA. Hamad International Airport along with the addition of the most advanced aircraft in the industry will allow us to continue our growth as well as honour our commitment to offering our passengers the very best of our 5-star service.”
A380 introduces innovative First Class seat
The Qatar Airways A380’s innovative First Class seat features a 90-inch seat pitch, transforming into a fully flat bed, together with an expansive choice of entertainment options displayed on individual 26-inch television screens. The First Class seating unit also converts to allow two diners to sit opposite each other.
Premium passengers will also have access to the onboard lounge, which offers an exciting experience compared with the standard aeroplane environment and which has been developed to make them feel like they are in their own executive club. The spaciousness of the lounge, combined with the most advanced mood lighting system, helps make passengers feel refreshed when they return to their cabin for rest or work.
HIA’s First Passenger
Name: Shan Mathews George
Occupation: Country Manager,
Damco (A.P. Moller Maersk Group)
Location: Doha, Qatar
How long have you lived in Qatar?
I have been working in Qatar for about 12 years now. I still vividly recollect the first time I landed in Qatar in 1986. From then to today, the growth of this country has been phenomenal.
As you drove up to the new airport, what were your first impressions?
I felt like I was entering a modern city. My colleague (who drove me there) stopped at various places to take pictures. First impressions Iast a lifetime – a magnificent and supremely imposing structure. A fitting monument to the ambitions of Qatar’s torch-bearers.
Stepping inside, what do you remember?
There might be many airports in the world that are bigger than HIA – I have travelled and seen many – but this one has made an everlasting impression. All that I could say is that it’s not the quantity but the quality that matters. HIA has succeeded 100 per cent in this. The design is the best that I have ever seen.
Did you realise you were the very first paying passenger to check in at HIA?
I had no idea that I would be the passenger who would receive the first boarding pass issued from HIA. When I looked at the check-in counter staff, I could see that he was excited and his hands were shaking while handing over the passport and boarding pass to me. I was also presented with an engraved wooden box and a book about HIA. At immigration, a welcoming smile greeted me and made me proud. It’s an experience I will never forget.