Qatar’s Hamad Airport Unveils Extravagant Luxury Showcase Just Days Before FIFA World Cup

Large gardens are all the rage at airports these days. Regular travelers may be familiar with the gem of Singapore’s Changi Airport, which opened before the pandemic, while India’s newest terminal in Bengaluru also offers large swathes of greenery.

Qatar’s Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha perhaps tops the two. Its latest expansion has transformed the terminal into an inland tropical oasis, with a 6,000 square foot water feature and a range of nearby luxury brand shops that few capital cities could match. All of this just before the FIFA World Cup kicks off on November 20.

Called The Orchard, the 65,000 square foot garden – filled with more than 300 trees and over 25,000 plants sourced from sustainable forests around the world – sits at the center of the terminal’s futuristic expansion. Around it on the top floor, airport retailer Qatar Duty Free has managed to attract roll call from the world’s biggest luxury names in some pretty stunning digital shops.

Two of the best are from Louis Vuitton and Fendi, but there is also the first Dior store at HIA, the first Thom Browne store at an airport as well as Boss, Bulgari, Burberry, Gucci, Moncler, Montblanc, Omega, Polo Ralph Lauren
, Tiffany, Zegna and more. A FIFA store is also present as well as the largest Ray-Ban store at an airport.

HIA had been named the best airport in the world by Skytrax for two consecutive years before this latest addition. Along with Qatar Duty Free, both operations are subsidiaries of the Qatar Airways Group whose CEO Akbar Al Baker said the airport has become “the ultimate example of a successful and sustainable global facility”. He added: “The environment here speaks for itself; it is unmatched anywhere in the world.

Opening at the right time

With the FIFA World Cup rife with controversy, Qatar Airways is making sure to be in top form during the start of the event, and during it, to avoid more negative comments. In addition to perfectly timing the reveal of the new expansion and its high-end purchases, it also has contingencies in place to accommodate the influx of air travelers which it is hoped will be a source of retail revenue. significant additions in the coming weeks. .

At a press conference on Thursday, Al Baker reminded the media that Qatar’s former main gateway, Doha International Airport, has been fully operational since September 15. The facility takes all point-to-point traffic into town as a means of easing pressure on the EIS. To be doubly sure there are no capacity issues, Qatar Airways has “flattened the peak” at the hub by cutting 18 destinations for the duration of the tournament.

Al Baker did not hold back on the criticism leveled at Qatar in recent days, saying: “People cannot accept that a small country like Qatar has won the biggest sporting event in the world. Congratulations to my dear country. This extension marks an important milestone in our FIFA journey that we have all been looking forward to for 12 years. »

The expansion increases HIA’s capacity from 40 million passengers to 58 million per year. Future expansions will allow the gateway to handle 75 million travelers and the first phase of these will begin in January 2023 extending the concourses either side of The Orchard and which could allow for even more retail facilities.

These developments, together with the high-end commercial offer, reinforce HIA’s position as a global connecting air hub with 150 destinations and growing. Purchasing and services are also drivers of non-aeronautical revenues, and in particular of profitability. Qatar Airways Group does not detail its retail revenue, but in the year ending March 2022, overall sales exceeded the same period to March 2020, as the group grew from a huge loss of over $4 billion in FY21 to a profit of $1.5 billion in FY22.

Prior to opening The Orchard, HIA had just over 430,000 square feet of duty-free and concession space housing more than 90 luxury and accessible stores, as well as more than 30 restaurants and cafes. The expansion project provided an additional 126,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

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