Qatar Airways files $600 million lawsuit over delays to airport opening
Passengers walk towards Arrivals at Doha International Airport. Christian Jensen / Flickr.com
Airport construction is often delayed and operations contested when international companies are involved. The German company has since rebutted Qatar’s claims that it’s responsible for the yearlong setback.
Rumors about such a conflict emerged for some time after the opening dates for the new state-of-the-art Doha International airport in Qatar were moved forward from mid-2012 to late 2012 and now estimated for mid-2013.
Qatar Airways is desperately banking on the new airport to be open. The current facilities have no room to expand and the airport is operating above capacity.
The new US$15 billion airport will have new super-sized lounges and transit facilities catering to the growing number of travelers now flying through the Doha, Qatar hub.
Qatar Airways was the Gulf launch customer for the new B787 Dreamliner, which allowed for new destinations to be launched, all, however, resulting in putting increased pressure on the present airport facilities. It made it difficult for Qatar Airways to translate their five-star airborne experience into a similar top-of-the-range standard on the ground.
Qatar Airways is head to head competing with Ethiad, operating from their Abu Dhabi hub, and Emirates using Dubai as their gateway to the world.
While business and first class lounges in Doha meet the standards travelers have come to expect, increased congestion for economy class passengers has on a number of occasions been cited as substandard.
Outspoken Qatar Airways Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, left no doubt over his anger and disappointment when he was quoted in the media release as having said:
“We are extremely disappointed by the poor performance of LDI which has failed to carry out the contract in a timely manner which in turn has forced a delay of the opening of the New Doha International Airport by nearly a year.
“We have been badly affected as an airline with the delay impacting Qatar Airways’ expansion plans that include new aircraft deliveries and opening up new routes at the rate we want to and more importantly causing a lot of inconvenience to our passengers in addition to the revenue losses to the airline and its subsidiaries.
“Our subsidiaries have been also affected by this delay including Qatar Duty Free, the food outlets, and the ground handling which had a negative impact on the revenues of the airline. The current airport we are operating from is already full to capacity with virtually no room to grow. We relied on moving to our new home, the New Doha International Airport this month, but this has not happened. Operational trials of the new airport have been ongoing since the summer as everything was in place, but incomplete airport lounges proved a serious setback.”
With currently 116 aircraft, Qatar Airways serves globally some 122 destinations, but upcoming deliveries are expected to push the fleet size to 170 aircraft and more than 170 destinations worldwide by 2015.
Qatar Airways has in particular in Africa made an impact on the market, and though using a single-aisle A320 aircraft for most destinations on the continent, has convinced by superior inflight service, ground handling, and wireless access on board.
The current volume transiting in Doha of about 20 million passengers is set to rise on opening of the new airport to 28 million and will eventually reach nearly 60 million capacity when fully operational.
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