Qatar’s Hamad International airport is due to partially open by April, confirm aviation authorities.

The much-delayed airport, previously known as the New Doha International, is set to welcome 12 airlines, including a number of low-cost carriers, in April. The airlines will be moving their operations from the existing airport.

The airport will fully open in the second half of 2013, when Qatar Airways moves its entire operations to Hamad International.

Cargo operations and catering facilities will be operational within the next few weeks. From March, freight forwarders and agents in Qatar will be able to process import and export consignments at the airport.

Cargo flights operated by Qatar Airways and other freighter companies are due to begin flights from mid-2013.

The new airport missed its deadline to open in December 2012, with the delay blamed on the ongoing legal battle between Qatar Airways and the German/UAE joint venture construction firm Lindner Depa Interiors (LDI). LDI is accused of failing to complete the construction of 19 airport lounges by summer 2012, as demanded under its $250m-plus contract. Qatar Airways issued a lawsuit against the company at the end of last year for causing the airport project to be delayed.

The airport has been blighted by a string of delays and contract cancellations since its launch in 2004. In 2008, its schedule was pushed back by two years, bringing its target completion date to 2011.

Once the first phase of the airport is fully operational, the facility will have capacity for 28 million passengers a year, an increase on the existing airport’s capacity of 4.2 million.

In the long term, the airport will be able to handle 50 million passengers from 2015.