Tenders for the expansion of Hamad International airport are expected to be awarded in the second quarter of 2017, according to a local media report citing Qatar’s Transport and Communications minister Jassim bin Saif al-Sulaiti.

The tenders, however, are yet to be released.

Akbar al-Baker, group CEO of Qatar Airways and deputy chairman of the newly formed Hamad International Airport (HIA) Steering Committee, said in January that the Qatari government has approved the budget for the project.

He also confirmed that they will undertake the tender very soon and want to complete the construction of the airport expansion scheme “as soon as possible.”

Al-Baker cited in January that UK’s Foster+Partners was finalising the design details of the project and that the tenders will be released as soon as the design is finalised.

Al-Sulaiti, however, said that they have begun assigning companies for developing the final designs and plans for the intended expansion.

Qatar Airways, which has been operating the the airport since it opened in 2014, is unable to comment on the minister’s statement.

Hamad International handled 37.3 million passengers in 2016, a growth of 20.32 per cent year-on-year.

The airport has a design capacity to handle up to 30 million passengers annually.

The planned expansion is expected to take the capacity to between 50 and 60 million passengers a year.

It was reported earlier this month that a new company will be formed to operate and manage Hamad International.

The airport, which opened six years late in 2014, cost $15bn-$17bn to build.