Hamad International Airport (HIA) is apparently considering plans to introduce valet parking as one of a number of new measures to make it easier for travelers departing from the facility.
The airport is currently in talks with a number of contractors to provide the valet service and other services for frequent fliers and other visitors,the Peninsula quotes an unnamed HIA source as saying.
There are no further details of what these new services may be, but they are scheduled to come online this year, the newspaper added.
The airport currently has two parking options for travelers. The short-term car park provides a paid-for facility that is within easy walk of the terminal and is equipped with ramps and lifts for those with luggage.
Meanwhile, free parking is available in the long-stay car park that opened in June last year.
However, travelers are required to take a shuttle bus from the lot to the airport terminal, and many have complained of inadequate space on the bus for luggage and passengers, especially at peak travel times.
As such, more residents and visitors say they are being dropped off with their bags at the terminal, leaving friends or family members to park without having to struggle with multiple bags. Also, many frequent flyers prefer to use the airport parking rather than rely on taxi services, particularly if they have flights which arrive back in Doha in the early hours of the morning, when there can be a shortage of cabs.
HIA has yet to respond to requests for confirmation on new plans.
Al Maha delays
Meanwhile, airport operator Qatar Airways has confirmed that its launch of new Saudi Arabian airline Al Maha Airways has been pushed back again by up to 18 months due to “complicated” bureaucracy, according to reports.
The national flag carrier’s CEO Akbar Al Baker said the airline may not be up and running until summer 2016, adding: “We expect to have a six to 18 month waiting period before the operation starts,” Arab News reports.
The national carrier was awarded the right to operate within KSA in December 2012, as part of a plan to meet rising domestic aviation demand in the kingdom. It was due to start operations in September 2014, but in May last year hit problems with licensing.
At the time, a Qatar Airways spokesman told Doha News that Al Maha Airways is “on track” to begin operations “by the end of 2014.” A spokesman for the airline previously said:
“Al Maha Airways are currently going through the standard process in order to obtain their Air Operator Certificate (AOC). An AOC is the approval, given by a national aviation authority, in order to allow an airline to operate its aircraft for commercial flights.”
The airline is due to fly domestically, with initial routes to include Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, Madinah, Abha and Qassim, Al Baker is reported to have said, in response to the latest delays.
The airline will sport the Qatar Airways oryx logo, but it will be in green instead of maroon, to match Saudi’s national colors.
Bloomberg has previously reported that the airline will launch with a fleet of 10 Airbus aircraft, although the airline has not yet disclosed its plans for staffing of the new airline.