By Bikram Vohra
Leastways, all flight paths will be homing into an airport that will handle 1600 flights during the World Cup soccer fest, an up from 700. Add to this 13 new airlines that want access for fans, several upgrades from carriers like BA shifting from a 777 to a 380 and scores of charters, the Air Traffic Control at Doha is going to be a frenetic place. With 100 landing and take-off movements of large planes the vortex turbulence gap will be constrained and that is tough on little planes.
Shuttles from Gulf carriers will cost about 300 dollars and Flydubai is offering 30 shuttles daily and Air Arabia 14 flights. Kuwait Airlines, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, Saudia are all involved in upping their numbers of flights. Simply Dubai is looking at 48 flights a day for Doha.
Even though the Hamad International airport is efficient, the influx of royalty, billionaires, celebs and their entourages will swell the numbers exponentially. When you see teams, officials, support staff, security, management personnel and cleaners the commute from other countries is mandated. There are just not enough hotel rooms and ground transport promises bumper to bumper gridlock.
Indeed for those paying up to INR 50 lakhs and more a Pilatus 12 or a Challenger 604 is a first choice. India’s 330 bizjets include Hawker Beechcraft, Bombardier, Dassault Falcon, Gulfstream (and Embraer.
However much the excitement for India’s well-heeled scions of wealth there is going to be a fair amount of circling around and their best bet would be an alternate destination where landing costs could be in the vicinity of USD 5,000.00. Another major issue will be the fallout from the slot delays. With so much threat of congestion a scheduled flight delay could have a lost slot and literally a back of the queue relegation that could cause a long tailback as inordinate delays inconvenience normal passengers…the domino effect could be hours waiting to leave.
By the same token baggage unification is going to be a nightmare and with fresh staff being bunged in at the airport with only 30 hours training the odds of confusion and chaos are very high. A chilling notification to airport staff to walk the extra mile or pay a price has spread a miasma of fear over the airport. The devious nature of Murphy’s Law is smacking its lips in anticipation.
Another aspect that will kick in is the priority given to VIP flights what with heads of state and FIFA teams getting precedence. Who gets first dibs? With over a million influx in this month and a contribution by the fans of 16 billion dollars to the exchequer the effort is commendable but for it to be seamless won’t be easy.
Bizjet and charter services are naturally excited because it is not often they can say they have a shortage of planes but if the comfort level is compromised and the effort a nuisance then even the uber rich could be cancelling flights. And buying space on yachts, probably the most convenient option to watching the game and heading back to the Marina.