The much-awaited $15.5bn Hamad International airport is facing fresh delays, according Akbar al-Baker, chief executive officer of Qatar Airways.

Speaking at a press conference in Chengdu, China, Al-Baker said the airport would be operational in early 2014, according to local newspaper the Peninsula.

The airport, formerly known as New Doha International Airport (NDIA), has missed a string of deadlines, originally scheduled to be operational in 2010. The deadline was then shifted to December 2012 and then moved to 1 April  when several low-cost airlines were to move their operations to the new airport.

The latest delay was due to Qatar’s civil defence department, which said Hamad International had not met newly introduced safety and security requirements.

Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority has not yet provided an accurate date for the new opening and the authority says the civil defence department is still conducting its inspection.

Al-Baker was in China to announce new scheduled flights to Chengdu, Qatar Airways sixth destination in China.