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US contractor blamed for Doha airport delay

San Francisco-based Bechtel under-fire from Qatar Airways CEO.
NEWS, Aviation

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The head of Qatar Airways has blamed a US contractor for the further delay in the launch of the Gulf state’s $15.5bn Hamad International Airport (HIA).

In comments reported by Dow Jones, Akbar Al Baker said that San Francisco-based Bechtel – the main contractor for HIA - had been “complacent” in meeting the regulatory requirements put in place by both the airline and the country’s civil aviation authority.

Hamad International was due to open on April 1, but the launch was put back as the airport did not meet newly introduced safety and security requirements.

“They [Bechtel] have to be blamed…for our delay in the first place,” Al Baker said, according to Dow Jones. He did not comment on whether the carrier would be seeking compensation from Bechtel, but did say that HIA would be fully operational by the end of the year.

In December last year, Qatar Airways said it would file a $600m legal claim against German-Emirati join venture contractor Lindner Depa Interiors (LDI) for allegedly delaying HIA by up to a year.

The Gulf carrier said in a statement that LDI had undertaken to complete the construction of 19 airport lounges by the summer of 2012 in a contract worth over $250m, but failed to complete the project on time.

Qatar Airways, set to be the airport operator, claimed LDI had "badly defaulted" with the delayed airport opening seriously affecting the airline’s expansion plans, causing huge revenue losses, increased construction costs and delay penalties, and more importantly, inconveniencing passengers.

At the time, LDI said it was "deeply disappointed" by the allegations made by Qatar Airways and rebutted all claims.

"LDI was denied full access to the project site for the first nine months of the 16-month project. This delay, combined with NDIA’s refusal to pay acceleration costs recommended by its own management consultancy, meant LDI was unable to start all interior contracting work on site as planned. As a result, LDI was unable to meet its original contract completion date," it added.

Doha's new airport was originally scheduled to open three years ago, but has faced numerous delays as a result of disputes with the contractors. Flights from HIA were set to begin on 12 December 2012, before being postponed to the most recent date of April 1.

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