The masterplan, which is due to be completed by the end of October, will set out the long-term development of the new facility. ‘You need a masterplan that will last you for 50 years and that will allow you to grow,’ Al-Baker said. ‘The initial capacity of the new airport will be 12 million passengers a year, but capacity could be raised up to 50 million passengers a year in phases.’

Al-Baker confirmed that the new airport, to be built largely on reclaimed land east of the existing facility, will not be ready until 2008, two years later than originally planned. As a result of the delay and the need to meet the forecast rise in Qatar Airways’ traffic, a $200 million upgrade and expansion of the existing airport is being carried out, which will see capacity rise to 7.5 million passengers a year by 2006 from the existing 4.2 million. In the latest stage of the investment programme, over QR 140 million ($38 million) is to be spent on expanding the apron and terminal space.

Once the new airport is completed, the plan is to close the existing one. ‘The whole area will come into urban planning. We have 42 square kilometres in a prime real estate location,’ Al-Baker said.