A Qatar Airways employee greets a Qatari passenger with flowers to help celebrate the airline's move to the new Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, on May 27, 2014. / Osama Faisal, AP
Qatar Airways moved all of its Doha flights to the brand new multi-billion dollar airport near the Qatari capital on Tuesday. The shift of national carrier's flights to the just-completed Hamad International Airport finishes a ramp-up of service at the sprawling new aviation hub, the home base for Qatar Airways.
The airline greeted passengers flying from airport on Tuesday with roses, dates, coffee, chocolate and Qatari flags, according to The Associated Press.
Doha-based Qatar Airways is one of the three fast-growing "Gulf carriers" have begun to reshape the global aviation map, thanks in part to their high-end offerings and the strategic location of their hub airports. Dubai-based Emirates and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad are the region's other two fast growing airlines, both located in the nearby United Arab Emirates.
Qatar Airways called its move to the new Hamad International Airport "a milestone." The carrier began operations just 17 years ago, but has quickly grown to become one of the world's major carriers.
Hamad International Airport officially welcomed its first flights during the last week of April. But the airport's first weeks of service had been limited mostly to about a dozen international carriers. Indeed, it was Tuesday's arrival of hometown Qatar Airways â?? by far the dominant carrier â?? that brought the new airport to full life.
The first revenue Qatar Airways flight with paying passengers to land there Tuesday arrived to Hamad International from the neighboring island nation of Bahrain, only about 50 minutes from Doha by air.
"The moment we have all been building towards for many years arrived today as QR1113 touched down, marking the historic start of our full operations at the world-class Hamad International Airport," Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker says in statement heralding the beginning of his carrier's passenger operations there.
AP notes the full-scale launch of Hamad International "comes after years of delays in building the vast new facility. â?¦. The natural-gas rich Gulf nation is working hard to transform itself into a major aviation hub as it prepares to host one of the world biggest sporting events, the soccer World Cup in 2022."
The sprawling new airport cost "at least" $15 billion, according to AP, which notes that Hamad International "has 70 retail outlets and around 30 cafes and restaurants." It's located about 10 miles from central Doha and only about 2.5 miles from the "old" Doha International Airport, which now will be used for helicopter and military flights and as a general aviation college.
Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com
Read the original story: Qatar Airways completes move to giant new Doha airport