What will happen at HIA starting next year?!
Despite the illegal siege of Qatar, the country’s national carrier Qatar Airways has continued to grow from strengths to strengths.
It has been announcing expansion plans right, left and centre and it has upgraded its target of serving at least 50 million passengers at the Hamad International Airport (HIA) next year.
Towards this end, the HIA will invest in new technologies in order to deliver on its ‘Smart Airport’ vision. Qatar Airways too have been flying to previously unexplored destinations and have given wings to their hope of reaching its pre-blockade traffic volumes soon.
Qatar Airways currently flies to more than 150 destinations, with Russia’s St Petersburg being the latest addition on December 20. Many other new destinations were added this year, including Auckland, Dublin, Nice, and Prague. Others, like Canberra, Cardiff and Penang will be added in 2018.
Qatar Airways has also been prudently investing in foreign airlines. They recently bought a 9.61% stake in Cathay Pacific and acquired 20% of British Airways parent company International Consolidated Airlines Group. They also got 10% of South America’s LATAM Airlines Group and 49% of Italy’s Meridiana.
Starting early June (immediately after the blockade) the emergency airlifting of food to Qatar resulted in a 160% increase in cargo business for Qatar Airways compared with the same period a year earlier.
Since 2015, Qatar Airways been the third largest international cargo operator in the world, CEO Akbar Al Baker said, noting that ‘our sights are set on No.1.’
The HIA too is investing in newer technologies to make their working easier and more efficient. HIA is expected to soon start trials to evaluate the effectiveness of robots for passenger facilitation, block-chain technology for rapid and secure sharing of data across stakeholders and the potential use of augmented and virtual reality for operational concepts.