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The years of delays contradict the image of a modern, reliable transit network that both Qatar Airways and Doha want to present. God knows they don’t want be thought of as the Berlin of the Middle East.
The launch of the long-awaited Hamad International Airport, the planned $15.5bn hub for Qatar Airways, has been delayed yet again.
The airport was originally supposed to open three years ago, but has missed a series of launch dates, including April 1 this year.
After missing that target, due to the fact that the project had missed newly introduced safety requirements, the airport’s launch was pushed back to the end of 2013.
However, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker announced in a press conference in China on Wednesday that Hamad International Airport would now begin operating early next year, according to the Peninsula newspaper.
No further reasons as to the further delay or a specific launch date were given. An official from Qatar Airways was not immediately available for comment.
The slow completion of the airport has led to a series of fractious comments from Al Baker as to the performance of the on-site contractors.
After the April delay, the CEO blamed US contractor Bechtel, saying that the firm had been “complacent” in meeting regulatory requirements laid down by the airline and the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority.
In December last year, Qatar Airways said it would file a $600m legal claim against German-Emirati joint-venture contractor Lindner Depa Interiors (LDI) for allegedly delaying HIA by up to a year.
The Gulf carrier said in a statement that LDI had undertaken to complete the construction of 19 airport lounges by the summer of 2012 in a contract worth over $250m, but failed to complete the project on time.
Qatar Airways, set to be the airport operator, claimed LDI had “badly defaulted” with the delayed airport opening seriously affecting the airline’s expansion plans, causing huge revenue losses, increased construction costs and delay penalties, and more importantly, inconveniencing passengers.
At the time, LDI said it was “deeply disappointed” by the allegations made by Qatar Airways and rebutted all claims.
“LDI was denied full access to the project site for the first nine months of the 16-month project. This delay, combined with NDIA’s refusal to pay acceleration costs recommended by its own management consultancy, meant LDI was unable to start all interior contracting work on site as planned. As a result, LDI was unable to meet its original contract completion date,” it added.