The regional head of Bechtel, the main contractor that is building Doha’s new airport, has claimed that its work there is “virtually complete,” and that it could be “ready any time” its client - Qatar Airways - chooses to open it.
In an interview with Construction Week, David Welch, Bechtel’s EMEA President, said:
"The start-up teams are operating, the contractors working on our portion of the scope are finishing up their punch lists very rapidly. The client would need to decide when they want to open it, but it will be ready any time they wish to do that.”
Welch’s comments come weeks after a recent announcement by Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, announcing yet another delay to the project.
Qatar Airways confirms that HIA is now scheduled to open early next year, rather than at the end of 2013 as had recently been promised. No exact opening date in 2014 has been announced.
HIA, a $15.5 billion airport project, was originally slated for completion in 2009. Two official opening dates have come and gone in the last two years: Dec. 12, 2012 (12/12/12), and April 1, 2013.
When the airport’s April 1, 2013 opening date was canceled at the eleventh hour, Qatar Airways blamed Bechtel for its failure to meet safety requirements, causing the airport to fail Civil Defense checks.
It’s understood that extensive remedial work has now been carried out at the airport to allow it to pass the tests.
Welch told Construction Week that “it (the airport) is going through the certification process with the authorities”, suggesting that these checks are currently being re-run.
Bechtel is not the only contractor to come under fire. Last week, Lindner Depa Interior (LDI), a German/Emirati interior design company, launched a lawsuit against HIA over the termination of its contract last year.
Qatar Airways claims that LDI did not complete a $245 million construction of 19 airport lounges, “seriously affecting the airline’s expansion plans, causing huge revenue losses, increased construction costs and delay penalties, and more importantly, inconveniencing passengers.”
Qatar Airways has declined to comment on Welch’s remarks, and Bechtel and the HDIA steering committee have yet to respond to requests from Doha News for comment.