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A snapshot of the air logistics behind the FIFA World Cup 2022

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With FIFA World Cup 2022 only hours away, the entire world has its eyes set on the Middle East as Qatar is hosting the world’s most famous sporting event in history.

This 22nd FIFA World Cup will be the largest source of income in Qatar’s history. The country with a population of just over 1.7 million will look at the biggest wave of tourists and visitors ever. Along with organizing the tournament, Qatar will also be responsible for handling flights for transporting not only fans but also football clubs, executives and lot more, which means more pressure on air logistics.

We look at this tiny peninsula’s air logistics preparation for the FIFA World Cup 2022.

The Preparation

The Qatar company for Airports Operation and Management (MATAR), has predicted that new visitors to the nation due to FIFA World Cup, including fans, event workforce, and clubs will rise by 1.8 million people.

MATAR translating this information to air traffic has estimated that the peak day of arriving visitors will reach 88,000 passengers on Kick-off Day.

To facilitate easy transportation and keep up with its promise of delivering a festival of football, Qatar on 10 November inaugurated the Phase A expansion of Hamad International Airport, taking its capacity to over 58 million passengers per annum.

Inaugurated on 10 November, the airport’s phase A expansion increases HIA’s capacity to over 58 million passengers per annum. 

In addition, HIA has also temporarily reopened a refurbished Doha International Airport (DIA) – which ceased operation for commercial flights in 2014 when HIA was opened – to help cater to the massive influx of visitors to the country. Thirteen airlines will operate to and from DIA, in addition to charter flights.

It is noted that extra capacity has been added to the air traffic management system to accommodate around 100 flights per hour, and the number of air routes has also been increased to 17. The capability of HIA had also been upgraded to allow three take-offs and landings at the same time.

Airlines transporting teams and fans  

It is said, that the teams will charter to Doha. Airlines like Wamos Air (EB), Titan Airways (ZT), and La Compagnie (BO) rely on economic models and can fly old aircraft to operate their connections. These charter are grounded for long periods when charter request decreases.

However, usually when transporting teams from one nation to another has flag carrier dedicated to one or two aircraft to perform this request.

Airlines often have to fly empty on long routes when chartering for teams, but they compensate for the cost through advertising profits.

Airlines sometimes also introduce special world cup aircraft Liveries. Some airlines flying this year are Aerolineas Argentinas (AR), Lufthansa (LH), and GOL Linhas Aereas (G3).

The Flag Carrier Qatar Airways, in 2021, announced painting its fleet of aircraft in special World Cup liveries. These liveries have been applied to 96 aircraft across all types of the Middle Eastern airline’s fleet.  

To handle the air traffic of fans, airlines have organized plenty of charter flights between the most populated cities of the world.

Airlines such as Aerolineas (AR), Air Europe (UX), Air France (AF), and Royal Air Maroc (AT) have scheduled charters between Argentina, Spain, France, and Morocco among others in the number of tens of arrivals every day in DOH, beginning November 17.

Qatar Airways is also performing its charter flights to other nations for fans. The airline’s move allows the operation of almost 100 services in 20 countries. Between November 17 to 23, the airline will take frequent flights to Sao Paulo (9), Riyadh (11), and 15 flight to Madrid.  

The Airline Operation Plans

MATAR had formulated the Airport Operations Plan (AOP) ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022, which was tested during the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 – which also took place in Qatar – and was peer-reviewed by aviation authority bodies and organizations who have previously hosted events on a similar scale.

The AOP outlines every process and procedure in place for the smooth delivery of the tournament. For example, the types of passengers expected to enter Qatar through HIA and DIA have been defined and their travel journey mapped out to help visitors have a seamless experience through the airport and into the city.

The AOP also defines the roles and responsibilities of all airport stakeholders including the organizer’s responsibilities to ensure close teamwork between airport stakeholders and FIFA organizers.

The AOP also covers coordination with all of Qatar’s transport providers to ensure easy connectivity to and from the airport, city, and stadiums. Coordination between traffic police, security, taxi, and coach operators has also been mapped out.

Now, the world awaits to see how events will unfold in Qatar. 

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