After “checking-in” her baggage with ease, Sowmya passed through the scanners and immigration counter at the Hamad International Airport (HIA) smoothly.
“There was no delay and everything went easy and fast,” she told Gulf Times. The Indian woman was among the 430 Qatar residents who joined the ninth passenger trial activity at the HIA on Wednesday night.
Participants, including children, went through the same process: from checking-in of baggage up to boarding the aircraft. Some of them were assigned as “arriving passengers”.
Sowmya rates the HIA as comparable to the best airports in the world. She has been to Melbourne, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other parts of Asia.
“It’s really a good experience to be a part of this passenger trial activity. I believe that when all the counters open, going through the entire process
will become easier and faster,” she said.
For Jocelyn and her daughter, it was a good experience to see how the system in the state-of-the-art international airport works.
However, she believes that a trial is different from an actual operation where all the counters are open, servicing thousands of passengers every day. “But it is really fast and easy, just like what other passengers have been saying,” said Jocelyn, who was joined by colleagues from her office.
Some of the passengers also won gift cheques from Qatar Duty Free and round-trip plane tickets in a raffle draw held minutes before the actual trial.
During the briefing, officials from the Operations Readiness Airport Transition (ORAT) team cited the importance of the participants’ role in the trial, saying that it served as the main indicator of the readiness of the airport.
“This is also to make sure that our staff have been familiarised with the new environment and new equipment,” they said.
The existing Doha International Airport (DIA) is only about 5sqkm in area whereas the HIA covers around 22sqkm. If 13mn passengers pass through the DIA per year, the HIA can cater to 24mn passengers right from its soft launch on April 1 and up to 50mn passengers per annum in full capacity.
The HIA is expected to receive its first flight around 12.20am on April 1. Ten foreign airlines are scheduled to operate out of the HIA’s Concourse B initially. There will be around 32 passenger flights departing daily from the HIA, equating to approximately 222 flights per week.
National airline Qatar Airways, the principle operator of flights from the new airport, will move its entire operations from the DIA to the HIA only by the end of the year. There are also 19 other airlines that will continue to operate from the DIA before they move to the HIA at the end of the year.
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