Singapore’s Changi Airport wins “best airport in the world” awards every year, thanks to an outdoor butterfly garden, movie theatres, a peaceful easy feeling and the “Jewel”. If you’re not familiar, the Jewel is the airports latest unveiling offering the world’s largest indoor waterfall – complete with epic shopping mall and hawker stalls. If you ask Qatar Airway CEO and Doha Hamad International Airport boss Akbar Al Baker though, it’s a rip off, literally.
This week, Qatar announced a strikingly similar development plan for Doha’s Hamad International Airport, which isn’t all that interesting on its own, other than plans for the world’s largest business class lounge, but things apparently took a far more interesting tangent at the press conference.
If it looks like The Jewel, feels like The Jewel and was originally designed six years ago to be The Jewel in everything but name… it might be an awful lot like “The Jewel”. Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways CEO, and also the boss of Doha’s Hamad International Airport alleges that someone in Singapore, or a design firm representing the project stole the plans for their latest development, and that they were originally destined for Qatar! Six years ago!
“Somebody copied our design, which was already on the table six years ago. We had individuals from that country, I will not name it, who took that and did it.”
Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport plan to open an 879 foot tall waterfall and massive indoor garden, replete with restaurants and spas. It’ll all be finished off with a new and expanded “Al Mourjan” business class lounge offering a gymnasium, gourmet dining and more space than an NFL stadium.
If there’s an issue with the airline’s current business class lounge setup, there just simply is not enough space. Since the lounge will be in addition to, rather than in place of, that shouldn’t be an issue for much longer.
Doha Airport claims that while things clearly didn’t go to plan, they will enjoy the last laugh.
More than 35 million passengers scoot through Doha each year, and that number could double before 2025 and despite dubious “who did it first” conversations involving the new water feature and modern space, Qatar is going full steam ahead to expand and ready for an expected 60 million passengers in 2022.
Stole, copied – those distinctions are for the lawyers to decide, but nonetheless, it makes the widely reported news that Qatar is simply copying Singapore Changi a bit juicier, when in fact it may be the other way around. As airlines attempt 20 hour ultra long haul flights, it’s all the more reason for the biggest transit airports which specialize in the one stop flights to make an incredible passenger experience.
For however many people that want to fly 20 hours nonstop, there will always be a large counter culture of people who want to get out after 10 hours, enjoy a nice stroll, a great meal and then carry on. The battle is heating up to offer the best solution for all…