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Hamad International Airport (HIA) has become the latest gateway to report an upturn in cargo volumes, Qatar’s hub handling 530,000 tonnes of freight (+4.7%) during the first quarter of 2020.

The increase in cargo is partly attributed to Qatar Airways’ and HIA’s continued efforts to provide freighter services in response to the increased demand for essential goods and medical supplies, locally and internationally.

It says that Qatar’s national carrier, Qatar Airways, “continues to support worldwide connectivity, re-establishment of the global supply chain, and meeting the market’s demand for freight exports and imports through Qatar Airways Cargo, its freight division”.

This, it reveals, includes the transportation of urgent medical relief aid and humanitarian assistance, which is pivotal to the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

New cargo records

Indeed, the airline continues to operate a significant cargo schedule with approximately 175 freighter and bellyhold passenger flights per day.

The airport states: “During the past month the cargo operator has worked closely with governments andNGOs to transport over 100,000 tonnes of medical and aid supplies to impacted regions around the world on both scheduled and charter services, the equivalent of roughly 1,000 fully loaded Boeing 777 freighters.

“Freight charters are being operated to multiple countries including China, India, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Poland, United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.”

Qatar Airways Cargo set a new record last week, operating 78 freighter flights and 69 freight-only passenger flights, a total of 147 dedicated cargo flights in a day to support countries with relief aid amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

The airport notes that in co-ordination with the Qatar Airways Group and international government entities, it remains open and has also been fulfilling “its national duty” towards the people of Qatar by bringing home Qatari citizens from around the world.

Health screening

To ensure the wellbeing of passengers, HIA, in co-operation with Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), MATAR Management and Qatar Airways, is conducting entry screening of all arriving passengers and crew terminating at Doha on 24/7 basis.

All terminating passengers (Qatari nationals) are being quarantined for 14 days as per the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines.

“HIA is also fully equipped with epidemiological surveillance cameras across the terminal and an established medical clinic at the airport, operated by MoPH on a 24/7 basis,” states the airport.

Airport expansion

According to the airport, HIA’s multi-phased airport expansion programme is still very much on, despite the current global downturn in passenger traffic.

It confidently states that Phase A of HIA’s expansion plan will be completed before the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar to increase the airport’s capacity to more than 53 million passengers annually by 2022.

Phase B, which is due to be completed after 2022, will further increase the airport’s capacity to more than 60 million passengers per year.

When complete, the 140,000sqm airside section of the terminal building will feature a 10,000sqm indoor tropical garden, a 268sqm water feature, 11,720sqm of landscaped retail and F&B space and a 9,000sqm Al Mourjan lounge.

HIA adds that it is simultaneously accelerating its digital transformation as well, to become the ‘airport-of-the-future’.

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