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Qatar to Open $17 Billion Airport Next Week After 6-Year Delay

April 22 (Bloomberg) -- Qatar plans to open a new $17 billion Hamad International Airport next week, six years behind schedule.

Ten discount airlines, including FlyDubai, will move from the current airport to Hamad on April 30, an official at the country’s Civil Aviation Authority said, asking not to be named in accordance with policy. The remaining airlines, including Qatar Airways Ltd., will start using the new airport May 27, once first- and business-class lounges are finished.

Qatar is facing pressure to complete more than $200 billion of infrastructure, including a $35 billion metro system, a $7 billion port, and new highways, before hosting the 2022 soccer World Cup. The country has reduced the number of stadiums it will build to eight from 12 amid escalating costs.

Bechtel Group Inc. was awarded a $5 billion contract in 2004 to build the airport, which will be able to handle 50 million passengers a year. The first of three phases of construction was scheduled to be complete by 2008. Since then, the opening date has been repeatedly pushed back and the existing airport has been expanded with new first-class and arrivals terminals.

Qatar Airways said in December 2012 it would file claims against Lindner Depa Interiors, a German-Emirati venture, for causing a yearlong delay after failing to complete construction of 19 airport lounges. Lindner Depa later filed a 900 million-dirham ($245 million) arbitration claim against the new Doha airport, claiming the termination of their contract caused the company “financial and reputational damage.”

The new airport will be able to accommodate the A380, the largest passenger plane ever built. Qatar Airways plans to receive its first three of the Airbus Group NV planes in June.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Tuttle in Doha at rtuttle@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net Thomas Mulier, Robert Valpuesta

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