Civil aviation in Qatar dates back to the onset of the 1950s when oil companies embarked upon oil-prospecting in the southern parts of the country.When these companies needed air transportation services to carry their personnel and oil-prospecting equipment, a runway was established in the western part of the country, followed by another one south of Umm Said. In the last quarter of the 1950s, another runway was established east of Doha for commercial air transportation.
At the time, that runway used to receive one plane monthly. As the commercial air transportation developed, the first small airport, situated in the same location of Doha International Airport, was established. The airport was equipped with all the navigating and handling services, in addition to other services for monitoring regular flights to and from Doha.
Since then, steps towards developing Doha International Airport, the basis for civil aviation services in Qatar, have been made. These steps include extensions, services and other facilities. This was accompanied by the economic and architectural renaissance, as well as a strategy for varying resources of national income so that oil does not remain the sole resource. The country made, under the auspices of His Royal Highness the Prince, quantum leaps in various domains. Several huge projects were implemented, e.g. Natural gas projects, import and export ports, infrastructures, petrochemicals, educational cities, and conversion industries. These projects attracted investments that are worth billions of dollars, in addition to thousands of labor forces, including professionals, technicians, engineers, and experts in all fields.
Today, Qatar plays a vital role in the diplomatic and economic arenas. It has hosted a number of regional and international conferences and exhibitions. Moreover, concerned authorities paid a special attention to tourism. Many hotels and spas were built; and a number of tourist locations, with all the supporting services, were created. It is noteworthy that Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA, henceforth) has played a pivotal role in all the foregoing projects.
Doha International Airport, as a gateway that links Qatar to the world, and with the help of QCAA, has always played a major role in all the abovementioned developments. It offers handling and navigation services, as well as services related to civil aviation safety and security, in compliance with the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standards adopted by more than 25 aviation companies that have regular flights to more than 48 destinations in Europe, Middle East, North Africa, the Indian Peninsula, and the Far East.
Furthermore, QCAA took part in establishing Qatar Airways, the national carrier, in 1994. Within one decade, Qatar Airways became a major regional and international air transportation company. It currently operates services in 48 destinations through its air fleet comprising 27 modern air jets. Qatar Airways is working towards increasing the number of its air jets to 52 within the next 5 years, and to 56 in 2011. It is also expected to carry up to 3 million passengers by the end of this year.
On 25/01/2005, and in line with the worldwide developments in the civil aviation industry, QCAA signed, on behalf of the Qatari government, a contract with Bechtel Corporation for implementing stage 1 of the new Doha International Airport. This first stage will cost up to $ 2.5 billion, and would be completed by the end of 2008.
By the end of Stage 1, the airport would accommodate up to 12 million passenger a year. In 2015, when the whole project is completed, it would accommodate up to 50 million passengers a year.
In order to offer transit passengers quality services, the airport will be connected with 2 hotels, 100 rooms each, in addition to another hotel close to the airport. The total area of the new airport is 2200 hectares, in addition to grand freight establishments that can send and receive million tons of freights a year.
It is noteworthy that QCAA was established in 2001 under the provisions of Law No. 16 of 2001. In accordance with the said law, QCAA, has a legal personality and is allocated a budget. It is affiliated with the Council of Ministers and has a board of directors and a general manager.
The objective of establishing QCAA is to promote civil aviation and weather forecasts in terms of efficiency, accuracy and security, thereby accomplishing the social development goals.
QCAA comprises 5 departments: