ForwardKeys, a prominent travel analytics organisation, has reported that Hamad International Airport (HIA) is now the busiest airport in the Middle East.

HIA has secured this position by safeguarding its airport experience with its adherence to COVID-19 policies and protocols, and introduction of technological solutions.

According to the report published by Breaking Travel News, the volume of air tickets issued for travel via Doha was 18% higher than it was through Dubai from 1 January to 30 June this year. Current bookings for the second half of the year through Doha are 17% higher than through Dubai.

At the start of the year, air traffic through Doha was also at 77% of Dubai; but it quickly reached 100% for the first time during the week commencing 27 January.

The major factor driving the trend was the lifting of the blockade of flights to and from Qatar, which was imposed in June 2017 by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who accused Qatar of sponsoring terrorism – an accusation strongly denied by Qatar.

Below are additional information regarding HIA’s growth during the pandemic and how Qatar’s airport never lost sight of its ambitious long-term goals, continuing with its expansion while being at the forefront of airport health and safety innovations.

  • In March 2020, when global airports around the world began to close, HIA adapted and innovated to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic, implementing the latest technologies to ensure the health and safety of its passengers and staff, and introducing the latest safety measures in accordance with global standards.
  • HIA was the first airport in the Middle East to receive the ISO 22301:2012 Business Continuity Management System Certification by British Standards Institution (BSI) for its pre-existing business continuity plans, proving the resilience of HIA operations in the face of disruptions such as the pandemic.
  • The airport adapted to changing traveller needs with the help of technological solutions such as Smart Screening Helmets that enable contactless temperature measurement, and autonomous disinfectant robots. HIA’s secure passenger experience is also ensured with its UVC disinfection tunnels to decontaminate inbound luggage from arriving passengers and security screening technology which allows passengers to proceed through security checkpoints without taking out electronic devices or liquids from their bags.
  • HIA’s internal teams also developed an automated facial detection system using computer vision and artificial intelligence to ensure the wearing of masks for all its staff.
  • The airport has also deployed touchless capabilities at key touchpoints such as self-check-in, self-bag-drop and terminal elevators.
  • In 2020, HIA was the first entity in the world to achieve independent certification from BSI for its implementation of COVID-19 Aviation Health Safety Protocols. The certification was conducted following successful audits for Compliance to International Civil Aviation Organization Civil Aviation Recovery Taskforce ICAO CART, and solidifies HIA’s leading position in implementing best practices to ensure staff and passenger safety and security. In 2021, HIA received re-verification by BSI for its successful compliance with the safety and hygiene measures outlined by ICAO CART.
  • HIA is the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to receive 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating by SKYTRAX. The audit evaluated the effectiveness of the COVID-19 policies implemented at HIA in offering a clean and safe environment for staff and passengers. This acknowledgment is a testament to HIA’s commitment to operational excellence and passenger well-being.

Commenting on the news, Badr Al Meer, chief operating officer at Hamad International Airport, said:

We believe this is a result of the hard work our team has continued to demonstrate throughout the pandemic and the COVID-19 policies and protocols the airport has implemented which have maintained our operational excellence while keeping staff and customers safe.

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Read also: New Screening Technology at HIA Allows for More Efficient Passenger Processing

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