Doha Airport Shutting Down… Or Is It?

Filed Under: Qatar

Update: Qatar Airways has announced plans to increase service in the coming days.

The government of Qatar has announced some drastic measures to deal with the spread of coronavirus, though if I’m reading the details correctly, the measures aren’t necessarily as strict as I initially assumed.

Doha Hamad Airport shutting down(ish)

Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Crisis Management held a meeting today to discuss the COVID-19 crisis, and has introduced several new measures. One of these involves Doha Airport:

“All incoming flights to Doha will be stopped starting from Wednesday, March 18, for a period of 14 days, which will be reviewed, with the exception of air cargo and transit flights, in addition to receiving any Qatari citizens coming from any destination in the world with a 14-day quarantine.”

Doha Hamad International Airport

Is the airport actually closing down, or…?

Most people seem to interpret this as the airport shutting down, perhaps with the exception of some charter flights to get Qataris home. If that’s the case that would be massive news, as it would mean that Qatar Airways is more or less shutting down for a period of at least two weeks.

But I’m not sure that’s actually necessarily the intention here. It sounds to me like it could be that the airline will continue to operate as-is for transit passengers, and just won’t allow foreigners into the country, through immigration.

I would call people connecting in Doha “transit passengers” rather than using the term “transit flights,” but then again, what else could that term mean? It’s not like there are many “transit flights” in Doha otherwise.

Will Qatar Airways be suspending operations for two weeks?

Is restricting entry to the country enough?

For the “big three” Gulf carriers, aviation is about a lot more than giving people access to their own country. A vast majority of people traveling on these airlines are transit passengers, simply using the hub as a gateway to the world.

If Qatar wants to be really serious about curtailing the spread of coronavirus, then simply shutting down entry into the country while maintaining flights doesn’t really seem like it will be enough.

Sure, they won’t let foreigners into the country, but the reality is that tens of thousands of people are employed at the airport, and they’ll be in close proximity and contact to all the people traveling through the airport.

Bottom line

For now we’ll have to mark this as “developing.” It’s possible the airport is actually legitimately shutting down to passengers, in which case that would be massive news.

However, I could also see them simply no longer allowing foreign passengers to enter the country, and otherwise continuing operations as normal…

Comments
  1. Very interesting given Al Baker’s comments the other day.
    Regardless, I’m still looking forward to checking out Q-Suites in November. If this hasn’t blown over by then, I will have more things to worry about than a canceled flight.

  2. So what about crews? Going to be allowed to enter The country to get to their homes in Doha or hang out by the yellow teddy bear until their next shift/flight?

  3. So the question is if an American leaves on Tue to come to Doha, the flight gets in Wed, would immigration deny entry and what would they do? Get that person a ticket to fly back?. I assume they will stop letting non transient passengers on flight at a certain time?

  4. Here is the rub . Having personally transited in the past on many occasions in DOH from a QR 10+ hour flight , going on to another QR flight involving a lengthy transit time between flights ( 8+hours) , I would check into a hotel for some rest before the continuing flight. That presumably is now out of the question. The one and only in airport terminal hotel is ALWAYS booked up decades in advance or so it seems. This makes DOH a less attractive routing now.

  5. guess the worst part? crew are not tested and they come in and go out of the country without getting tested. They are forced to self-quarantine in their dorm with other similar crew if someone in their flight looks sick. Poor crew because they could get infected by this weird quarantine measure. What is worse? The country that does this much to protect itself is so loose about their airline…

  6. I guess this allows Qatar to still apply penalties if you cancel your flights There will be no full refunds and a $500pp cost plus fare discrepancy $$ to change your flight

  7. Strictly speaking “transit flights” mean something like fifth freedom flights or tech stops. The flight lands, the passengers either stay onboard or quarantined in sterile area, then return to the SAME aircraft.
    Not to be confused with “transfer” passengers – you get off one plane then move on to another. So what most Qatar airlines passenger do at DOH is “transfer”, not “transit”.
    So the conclusion is that DOH is closing down, with exceptions to tech stops or fifth freedom flights with DOH as intermediate stop.

  8. “All incoming trips to Doha will be stopped starting next Wednesday for a period of two weeks as a precautionary measure to limit the spread of the coronavirus.”

    Who wrote this? It implies that QR flights will be left at LaLa land.

    “This is with the exception of air cargo and transit flights.”
    What is QR’s definition of a transit flight?

  9. Qatar always protect there nationalities and other nationalities they can find a solution with the help of full cooperation with all nationalities in the country and there ministries

  10. Looking forward to our Qsuite flights in December. Hopefully the world has calmed down to a panic by then.

  11. No the airport is not closing. Flights to Qatar will still operate but only with passengers in transit to other destinations. Only Qatari nationals will be permitted entry to Qatar for the initial 2 week period. Cargo flights will operate normally.

  12. Who cares ! that airport is already empty ! QR does not have a good reputation in the Middle East anymore !

  13. If the announcement came from an English speaking country, then it would have definitely meant the airport is shutting down, except for tech stops and fifth-freedom flights with DOH as intermediate stops (and cargo).
    Strictly speaking, “transit” and “transfer” are two different things. “Transit” means you get off a plane, stay in “sterile” area and then you return to the same plane. It is what happens with tech stops or fifth-freedom flights. On the other hand, “transfer” means you get off a plane and get on another plane – what many Qatar
    However, I definitely see chances for something being lost in translation here – the words “Transit” and “transfer” are often mixed up and the translator might not have been aware of such differences…

  14. Passengers will be able to enter Qatar through immigration up to Wednesday evening. Passengers transiting through Qatar will be permitted to continue with their onward travel.

    After Wednesday evening only Qatari nationals and those with resident stays will be able to enter immigration but will stay in quarantine for 14 days.

    As to what will happen inside the airport with transit passengers, staff and crew I am inside. However I flew from Hamad on Wednesday 11th and the airport is immaculately clean, tissues and hand sanitiser everywhere for people to use. Cleaning staff everywhere keeping the place incredibly clean.

    If there is one thing I have learnt from living in Qatar for 6 years is that they look after their people, expats, immigrants and guests remarkably well.

    I have experienced it first hand through the blockade in 2017 which they handled with integrity, respect and upmost class.

    I have already read the communication from the ministry regarding the monetary contributions that Qatar will invest in the stock exchange to maintain its buoyancy, the banks are giving people payment holidays for mortgages and loans etc, the government have instructed that tenants will not pay rent for 3 months and all business impacted by a loss in revenue such as hotels, restaurants, hospitality, coffee shops etc will not only have rent breaks but will get free utilities such as water and electricity during that time. I’m proud to be a Brit living in Qatar

  15. @Ghadir, ‘QR does not have a good reputation in the Middle East anymore !’ What planet do you live on?

  16. Need information… I m working in Qatar and I need to go back permanently to India.. Is there any flight go there except Qatar Airways.. Now days….

  17. @Sully
    I think Ghadir and John are paid by UAE or Saudi Arabia to attack Qatar at every opportunity. It’s depressingly predictable, and their posts bear no relationship to any facts that would be recognised by a 3rd party.

  18. Qatar has taken lots of safeguards for people because of HMC is one of the most very wonderful Hospetal in the Middle East!!! I love my Qatar!!!

  19. Doha is the hub station for Qatar airways, and to my rough estimate. 80% to 90% of passengers boarding QR flights are on transit to other destination via Doha, Just like Emirates. What has been taken away from the airline is only the 10% if not 20%. I don’t see anything unique with Qatar government being that even the it’s among the last countries to to implement. Kuwait have shut down, USA are not allowing foreigners and many other. Let’s embrace health , wealth will come later.

  20. If you are stuck there on a long layover good luck. I was there Saturday, managed to snag a room at the airport hotel for $450 USD, which is pure extortion, expecially considering that I had a 2 hour layover that Qater turned into 16 hours, and the Vitality pool and spa is closed right now too, so you don’t even get that amenity. I spent $450 for a bed to sleep in basically. This announcement only makes things worse.

  21. Interesting comments about the difference between transit and transfer. The dictionary definition is more or less correct so every airport in the world which has those big yellow signs saying “Transit” will all have to change

  22. I’ve been reading similar artlicle regarding the same subject but none of them have a slightest mention about the returning non qatari residents, are they blocking all non qatari or are they blocking only the tourists but allowing entry also to non qatari residents..? If only anyone can clarify this.. I am suppose to return to doha on 21st

  23. I got the notice in my native language (via Qatar embassy) – clearly says “no changes to transfer passengers” so please disregard my previous comments. Looks like transfer passengers can still proceed, that is, if their flights are still intact.

  24. I have a friend who is currently on the cruise ship, Crystal Serenity on its World Cruise, scheduled to end in May. Today I got a message from her that the cruise will be ending Friday in Perth and she will be flying back to JFK through DOHA on Qatar and arriving home on March 21st. I guess that means that the airport will remain open for transfers.

  25. @John – It isn’t being funded by terrorism unless you consider the USAF a terrorist group. The entire Qatari air infrastructure was built in 1996 and funded by the US to support their operations in the Middle East. Al Udeid is the largest US base on foreign soil and is expanding. Doha is a secondary operational airfield that hosts some activity and can be utilized in case of an attack on Al Udeid.

    I hope MBS is paying you to spout his bullshit and you don’t get executed when the outside world finds out you are carrying out his orders.

  26. @BG Sala, I am pretty sure they are only going to let Qatar Nationals back into the country for the next couple weeks. I think if you are a Resident, you are out of luck.

  27. There are probably more crew and airport workers leaving the airport every day than international visitors.
    These staff are in contact with potential carriers.. so what is the government accomplishing (aside from appearing to do something)?

  28. As a single transit hub focused airline that is unlikely to be allowed to fail due to Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, QR has to rank as one of the lowest risk airlines out there. I just checked my usual routes and they’re running flights throughout the various nations lock-down periods involved. Frankly it’s my goto airline at least until 2022. The hard and soft products are pretty good also, whether in Economy or Business which I flit between according to day/night flight.

  29. I am in work business visa in qatar.It is expiring March 18.Is therrvany chance for extending visa for some more time by government

  30. Hello I fly from Australia on the 30th March back to england, I have to come to Doha to get my next leg of my return to manchester and land back in england on the 31st March. Can some one please help me with this question.

  31. Hi..what about passengers from Rwanda to Muscat on Friday 21st any change or cancellation?

  32. Qatar is severely misunderstood. Like the Emiratis of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, the revolutionary Saudia king (the one who Gorbacheved Saudi Arabia out of the blue) run themselves similar to how Singapore and Israel does. Let’s not be stupid and speak up for the rights of ordinary Qatari and Emirati citizens. There are none. Much of the Qatari and Emirati forces are employed usually by the US military or in service of. This allows both UAE and Qatar to be unburdened by national rivalry, and focus on shared challenges. It also allows US the perspectives of Sunni and Shia.

    Qatar is merely implementing what at least 55 million passengers choose to do every year, when they fly via Changi, and even though many choose a long layover, visa free and Europeans and Americans basically offered money to enter the country, they do not. Many of these unfortunately, are Star Gold, ow Sapphire, Elite Plus, and they stay inside the lounges and treat the food available as if it’s an All you can eat buffet, they duty free shop for too many items… They are free riders and such exploitative behavior needs to be quashed. They often make the most noise when an airline announces devaluation even though a well educated individual should know that devaluations reflect quarterly indicators announcements aka inflation.

    If you are one of these people, change your mindset, change your thinking. There are 4.5 billion people who are entering the modern lifestyles soon. Don’t be a bad example.

  33. That doesn’t answer my question? Am I able to fly out on the 30th March back to England at all?

  34. I work at Hamad international airport
    There were flights coming from Italy and they force security guard to attend those flights by doing patdown search. Some refused and were punished by the contractor companies i.e. G4S and CERTIS GSS. The 5 star Airport pays very well but the contractors are not paying enough there staff who are in the field yet they don’t care about their health. For instant both contractors of security companies they hardly give off their staff some work two months continuous without a single off or even more while the 5 star airport does nothing about it. I’m really disappointed working for the airport as a contractor and very disappointed with my sponsor company G4S

  35. Due to arrive in Doh from Lgw transit to Krabi Thailand Wednesday 25 March is everything okay at the airport? My travel agent hasn’t cancelled our holiday yet.

  36. Been trying to contact Qatar from the Uk and it’s impossible also they’re not replying to emails via their contact website. I have 2 flights booked for this week which shows canceled on their system but no contact from them.
    Great In flight service but looks like they’re support team isn’t coping

  37. Marc are you on the Qatar airways app .? I’m also due to fly on Wednesday from Lgw/ Doh to Krabi Thailand. The flights to Doh are showing cancelled, the airlines are inundated with cancellations and we haven’t been informed like thousands of other passengers, you will eventually get a refund or reschedule for future date when this corona virus hopefully disappears,

  38. If we see flight radars i think the only company who have benefits is Qatar airways , all the planes seem to operate a lot ! And also many Indonesian and us intern flights. Some others operating rescue flights have a lot of code share.
    Qatar is now the only transcontinental carrier operating I would say as normal.

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