QATAR. The strength of the rebound in travel and travel retail at the Qatar Airways Group has been underlined by figures for 2021, released today.

According to a statement accompanying Hamad International’s (HIA) annual traffic results, Qatar Duty Free (QDF) posted “strong growth in revenue versus 2019, driven by a more than +70% in uplift in sales per passenger (SPP)” at HIA.

The growth figures “affirmed QDF’s extensive revamp and expansion of its shopping and dining portfolio during the reduced traffic periods during the pandemic,” said the statement.

Investment in retail and dining facilities through the pandemic was among the factors that helped HIA to be named Best Airport in the World, via the Skytrax consumer survey

Hamad International served 17.7 million passengers in 2021, a leap of +41% year-on-year. Flights from the Doha hub connect to 156 destinations, with eight new passenger destinations and one new airline partner, RwandaAir, added to the network last year. Dhaka, Male, Dubai, Kathmandu and London were among the busiest departing destinations from HIA in 2021.

HIA Chief Operating Officer Engr. Badr Mohammed Al Meer commented: “While the global aviation industry witnessed another tumultuous year, HIA continued to set new benchmarks and achievements, a reflection of the airport’s dedication to ensuring passenger and staff well-being. Qatar’s airport maintained stringent safety procedures to ensure a worry-free passenger experience, formed new partnerships to further HIA’s vision for sustainability and technological innovations, and expanded its lifestyle offerings for its passengers.”

Al Meer continued: “As the Official Airport Partner of the fast-approaching FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, HIA is looking forward to creating new passenger experiences at the airport, while keeping their safety and well-being at the core of our operations. Qatar’s airport realises the importance of the World Cup for incoming fans – many of whom fly across the world to witness the event. We are delighted to welcome them with the unparalleled experience they deserve.”

Highlights of the year: Key Qatar Duty Free openings in 2021 included (from top) luxury avenue Viale di Lusso, Apple, adidas and Hublot

In the statement announcing its traffic results, HIA highlighted QDF’s in ensuring a memorable traveller experience. It saluted the many new concepts, brand stores and food & beverage outlets that opened over the past year. These include an Adidas store, an Apple shop and Hublot, the Swiss luxury watchmaking house, which officially launched its first travel retail boutique in the region recently.

QDF also revealed Viale Del Lusso, the luxury fashion avenue, which features Valentino’s first airport boutique in the Middle East, Emilio Pucci’s first stand-alone airport boutique in the Middle East, Fendi and Jimmy Choo, as well as the first-ever Emporio Armani Ristorante and Emporio Armani Caffè in an airport globally.

Recently, HIA also invested in its green future through the introduction of sustainable measures at its Oryx Airport Hotel. The hotel has replaced all its plastic water bottles with eco-friendly water containers, along with initiatives aimed at increasing the positive environmental impact of the airport.

The expansion project at Hamad International Airport is set for completion in 2022 in time for the FIFA World Cup. The project will add 11,720sq m of commercial space, packed with a diverse variety of shopping and food & beverage offers. Below, one of the new stadia being built for the football showcase, this one (Ras Abu Aboud Stadium) featuring 974 shipping containers.

HIA’s expansion, currently in Phase A, is set to increase  capacity to more than 58 million passengers annually by 2022. Phase B, which will commence after the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar, will increase HIA’s capacity to more than 60 million.

The statement said: “The ongoing expansion enhances the multi-dimensional offerings of the five-star airport and allows passenger flow to seamlessly connect with the existing terminal.

“Passengers will be welcomed with an efficient airport experience, including a minimised travel distance for connections. Clarity and intuitive wayfinding are additional features travellers will benefit from. HIA has further reduced the stress of travelling with the addition of a lush rainforest and garden as part of its expanded terminal.”

To ensure readiness for the FIFA World Cup, MATAR, the Qatar Company for Airports Operation and Management, has created a consolidated airport operations plan to align and co-ordinate stakeholder activities.

Along with the main passenger terminal, HIA has a dedicated stand-alone terminal as the primary touchpoint to process the arrivals and departures of FIFA teams and delegates. HIA has also introduced staff training to acclimatise HIA employees with essential airport plans and preparations for the World Cup.

In 2021, HIA was recognised by the Skytrax World Airport Awards as the Best Airport in the World, also capturing the accolades for Best Airport in the Middle East and Best Airport with 25 to 35 million passengers. The airport was also recognised with awards for Best Airport Staff in the Middle East and COVID-19 Airport Excellence.

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