Preparations are said to be well underway for the first phase opening of the new $15.5 billion Hamad international airport in Qatar on April 1.

The facility – previously known as New Doha international airport – will be able to handle 28 million passengers a year, rising to 50 million beyond 2015.

Qatar Airways plans to move all its operations to the new airport in the second half of the year.

The first phase of the project involves 12 international airlines, including budget carriers, launching services from April 1.

Doha will have a dual airport operation until full operations begin at Hamad international in the second half of the year.

Qatar Airways pledged to work closely with the first movers to ensure a smooth transition of flights from the current Doha international airport.

Chief executive Akbar Al Baker said: “This will be a world class facility that promises to propel our nation further on the international stage. Of course the story doesn’t end here.

“Later this year, Qatar Airways will move its entire operations to Hamad international airport, as all airport lounges are expected to be ready and fully operational by then ensuring that all our passengers have a truly world class experience that they fully deserve.”