The official opening of Qatar’s new $15 billion Doha Hamad International Airport, which was set to open April 1, was postponed just hours before the first aircraft was due to touch down.
According to local press reports, journalists had been told to arrive at the airport at 10:30 p.m. March 31 in preparation for the first service—a Qatar Airways flight—to touch down at 00:30 April 1. However, when they did, they were informed the official opening had been postponed to an unspecified future date.
Qatar’s The Peninsula newspaper cited Abdulaziz Al Noaimi, chairman of the New Doha International Airport Steering Committee, as saying the postponement had become necessary as the airport did not meet newly introduced safety and security requirements demanded by the Arabian Gulf nation’s Civil Defense Dept.
The precise reason for the decision was not given, but the Associated Press noted that a wholesale review of safety systems was being undertaken in all public buildings since a mall fire in Doha last year killed 19 people.
The airport is due to have an initial annual capacity of 30 million passengers, rising to 50 million by 2020 when the facility is completed.
The airport’s opening date has repeatedly slipped since the originally mooted 2009.