Qatar's Al Baker blasts new Doha airport's developer for delay

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Qatar Airways has blasted the developer of the new international airport at Doha, after an 1 April soft opening of the airport was missed when the new facility failed to obtain required regulatory approvals.

The new airport, called Hamad International airport, did not have its soft opening on 1 April as planned because the developer, Bechtel, could not obtain an occupancy permit for the airport, says Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker.

"They are to be blamed," says Al Baker. "They are to be blamed for our delay in the first place, because we were supposed to open the airport earlier."

Qatar Airways plans to move its entire operations to Hamad by end-2013 from its current base at Doha International airport.

Al Baker declines to comment on whether the airline plans to seek financial compensation from Bechtel for the delay in the new airport's opening.

"They [Bechtel] have been complacent in trying to make sure that all these specifications, all the regulatory requirements, all the finishes of the airport developed by the contractor were to the highest standards that Qatar Airways, and the civil aviation authority that is the owner of the airport, require," says Al Baker.

A Bechtel spokesperson, in response to queries, says: "We continue to work tirelessly with our customer, contractor and the relevant agencies towards the successful opening of a world class airport." She was not able to specify a date for when the airport will open.

Hamad International airport will be able to handle 28 million passengers initially each year when its first phase opens. This will grow to 50 million annually beyond 2015.