Qatar’s much-delayed new international airport, built at a cost of $15.5 billion, welcomed its first commercial flight on Wednesday.
A flydubai budget airline jet carrying passengers from Dubai touched down at midday at the Hamad International Airport.
The flight was preceded by a Qatar Airways plane that landed at the airport with four ministers and civil aviation officials on board.
Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority chief Abdul Aziz Mohammad Al-Noaimi told AFP that the seaside airport, whose construction began in 2007 with 50,000 workers, was built at a cost $15.5 billion.
Initially, the facility will only be open to 10 airlines, including flydubai, with other carriers including Qatar Airways expected to use it from May 27, airport officials say.
Named after Qatar’s former emir, the airport had originally been scheduled to open on April 1 last year, but this was delayed after it failed to meet new security standards.
The airport, which replaces the old Doha International, will initially be able to handle 30 million passengers per year, and its sponsors hope to expand that figure to 50 million by the time work finishes in 2020.
It spreads over 29 square kilometres (11.2 square miles), and features two runways stretching 4.85 kilometres (three miles) and 4.25 kilometres (2.64 miles).
The terminal has a total surface of 60 hectares.
Qatar, a wealthy oil and gas producer, has made huge investments in infrastructure to establish itself as an international hub before it hosts the football World Cup in 2022.