On my 2012 trip to Europe I flew with Qatar Airways – one of many Middle East based carriers who fly from anywhere to everywhere via their petrocurrency funded airports. At the time of my flight the current Hamad International Airport had not yet yet opened, so I passed through Doha’s original international airport – and it was quite the avgeek‘s paradise.
Opened long before Qatar Airways became a player on the world stage, Doha International Airport had only a single runway and no jet bridges – air stairs and buses were used to transfer passengers between terminal and plane.
On arrival to Doha my plane was met by two sets of mobile stairs and a fleet of air conditioned buses.
Down the stairs and into the desert heat we went.
With the last passengers onboard the bus, we left our 777-200LR behind on the tarmac.
Out on the apron, there were dozens more jets waiting for their next load of passengers.
The bus weaved our way around the apron, passing tugs towing ULD containers full of freight.
We also watched as aircraft trundled past on the parallel taxiway.
Unlike any other airport I have passed through, Doha’s baggage handing system was housed in open air sheds alongside the aprons.
Inside the staff were trying their best to avoid the desert heat.
Our bus continued the long drive around the runway and back to the terminal.
Navigation equipment could be found between the road and the runway.
I also spotted an aircraft level crossing, necessitated by the heavy road traffic crossing the taxiways.
We didn’t get held up by any planes, but we did have see a number of jets take off from the parallel runway.
As we got closer to the terminal, the amount of road traffic grew heavier.
Our first stop was the Arrivals Terminal – destination for the handful of passengers who are entering Qatar. Since I was just transiting through, I stayed on the bus.
Next we passed the Emiri terminal – VIP gateway for the Royal family, high government officials and visiting dignitaries to Qatar.
But our final destination was the main departures terminal.
Duty free shopping is how the airport management would like passengers to spend their time (and money!)
However recharging their mobile phones is what many opt for instead.
The food options were rather poor – the main food court consisted of just four fast food restaurants.
I opted to do some planespotting – with no jetbridges, the view out the window was wide open.
When my flight was called, I made my way to the ‘gate’ – in reality an escalator to the bus bay on the ground floor.
There we queued for the next bus out to our plane.
The buses have six doors per side and plenty of standing room, but there was only one other passenger on my bus.
We left the terminal and headed back onto the apron.
Where our plane was waiting for us to board.
Qatar Airways uses a “banked hub” model for their operations in Doha, so there was a long line of jets waiting to take off ahead of us. We slowly made our way to the southern end of the runway.
There were at least four more Qatar Airways jets in the departure queue behind us.
Eventually we made our way to the threshold of runway 33, but we had to wait for an arriving jet to clear.
It was now our turn to take off.
Moments later we were up in the air.
As we bid farewell to the city of Doha.
A full set of aeronautical charts for Doha International Airport can be found on the website of the Civil Aviation Authority of Qatar. Charts of particular interest are:
- Aerodrome ground movement chart
- Aircraft parking / docking chart – main & western aprons
- Aircraft parking / docking chart – eastern aprons
- Bird concentrations (!)
The January 2015 edition of the Qatar ‘Electronic Aeronautical Information Publication’ has the full details.