Qatar Airways' premium lounges at Hamad International Airport will admit eligible Oneworld members, the airline's CEO Akbar Al Baker has confirmed.
The new Doha airport is in its "soft" opening phase with 15 carriers currently operating out of it (see news, May 12), Etihad being the most recent airline to start using the airport.
From May 27, Qatar Airways flights will move from the existing Doha International Airport to Hamad International, a much larger facility with an initial capacity of 28 million, reaching 50 million by 2017. To see photos of both the airport, and the lounges (as yet unopened and with the fit-out still continuing, click here).
Al Baker said that the new lounges will not be open, however, when Qatar Airways moves in on May 27, because of delays lasting "another two months" as a result of previous delays to the interior fit-out.
He said: "The first and business class lounges are not ready yet. It is such a complicated and high-end [operation] that the contractor is having difficulty keeping up with the kind of finishes we want."
These delays come on top of delays of at least two years to the airport, delays that Mr Al Baker said had "cost Qatar Airways in excess of $650 million in terms of lost opportunity per annum".
Al Baker said that in the intervening period, business and first passengers "will be accommodated in lounges we already have and if we find the capacity is getting filled we have vouchers for them to use".
He said that he would not delay the opening of the airport any longer, despite the lounges being unfinished, because it would disrupt the summer schedule and delay Qatar Airways' A380 deliveries.
Qatar Airways is introducing the A380 on its London to Doha route on June 17 (see news, April 28), with Paris, Frankfurt, New York (two on this route) and "destinations in the far east" to follow through until 2017 as the airline receives its superjumbos. [edit: The airline has now confirmed that its second A380 will be used to fly to Paris Charles De Gaulle airport from Doha from the 3rd July, on QR39 and return on QR40.]
Although the further delay of lounges is disappointing, the access problems for eligible members will be welcome. The refusal of Qatar Airways to open its lounges at Heathrow and Doha to Oneworld Emerald passengers has occasioned much debate (to see the forum discussion on this, click here).
At present, the situation remains unchanged: "Members of Oneworld airline frequent flyer programmes with the equivalent of Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire tier status can use lounges offered by Oneworld airlines when departing on any flight marketed and operated by any Oneworld member airline, regardless of cabin class being flown (exceptions are noted below)... Qatar Airways Doha International Airport Premium Terminal is excluded. Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at LHR Terminal 4 is excluded."