To prepare for the large influx of tourists anticipated during the FIFA Soccer World Cup in November and December, the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Qatar is rebuilding its ancient, defunct passenger airport next month.
After the nation established Hamad International Airport (DOH) on the ground recovered from the sea next to the old airfield, Doha International Airport (DIA) was shut down to regular passenger operations in 2014.
Despite the fact that Hamad Airport can already handle 30 million passengers annually and is undergoing expansion to treble passenger capacity by next year, the works won’t be finished in time for the FIFA World Cup, and DOH capacity is expected to be at its maximum.
Although a major motorway divides the two airports, DIA has a single 4,570-meter runway and can handle about 12 million people annually in its former passenger terminal.
A number of smaller carriers, including flydubai and Jazeera Airlines, will temporarily relocate to DIA starting the next month.
On some match days, Doha will handle more than 160 flights just for soccer fans as a result of some of these carriers’ participation in a World Cup shuttle service. After it became apparent that Qatar lacked the necessary number of hotel rooms to meet demand during the event, the shuttle service was introduced earlier this year.
Instead, it is advised that soccer fans remain in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Manama and take day trips to Doha on dedicated aircraft for soccer supporters, which will only be accessible to travelers who have already purchased match tickets.
Although the airport doesn’t frequently serve passengers, Qatar has been constructing facilities at DIA since 2019. The Royal Air Wing and Qatar’s air force still use the airfield.
Even with the extra capacity at DIA and the special shuttle flights, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker claims the airline will still need to “sacrifice” a few routes to make room for World Cup-related planes and slots.
The competition is scheduled to take place from November 21 to December 18.