Qatar prepares to welcome 200,000 daily air passengers for the World Cup

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Doha (AFP) – Qatar will only let soccer fans with match tickets into the Gulf state during the World Cup tournament, officials said on Thursday, announcing that dozens of shuttle flights would bring thousands of people every day. fans from neighboring countries.

Facing mounting pressure to cope with the four-week football tournament, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the national airline would halt some routes to countries not involved in the 32-nation tournament during the tournament and reduce others.

Baker, who is also tourism minister, said Qatar’s Hamad International Airport and the old Doha International Airport would double their capacity to handle more than 200,000 people a day.

The small state is desperately trying to find rooms for the expected 1.4 million visitors and a senior official with the World Cup organizing committee has said only fans with tickets will be allowed in for the four weeks to from November 21.

Fans will need to obtain a special pass, a Haya card, to enter the country and the stadiums. They will need a game ticket to get the pass.

Saeed Al-Kuwari, director of the Haya digital platform for the organizers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, told AFP: “The only people who will enter the country during the tournament are the holders of the Haya digital map”.

Qataris and legal residents will also be able to enter, but authorities have not yet announced how business people will be treated.

Baker announced that Saudia, Kuwait Airways, flydubai and Oman Air will operate more than 160 daily flights from November 20 to bring fans on day trips to see matches.

Officials estimate that more than 20,000 fans could come on the shuttles each day.

Saudia chief executive Ibrahim Koshy said his airline would operate at least 30 daily return flights from the cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, capable of carrying 10,000 fans.

Flydubai would operate at least 30 return flights, Kuwait Airways 10 and Oman Air 24, Baker said.

All flights would be reserved for fans with World Cup tickets who would go through special booking which Baker said would ensure “seamless” immigration and security processing as if they were entering on a domestic flight.

Baker said Qatar’s civil aviation authorities were increasing airspace capacity so that Hamad Airport’s three runways could operate “continuously” during the World Cup.

He said Qatar Airways would reduce flights to “non-relevant” destinations for the World Cup, so it could increase flights to participating countries.

Some 70% of Qatar Airways scheduled flights would see their schedules changed so that additional flights could be arranged.

Airports would have to handle additional charter flights and airlines that have asked to establish regular routes due to the World Cup.

He said “state-of-the-art immigration systems” would be introduced to speed up the arrival of international passengers.

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