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Airport upgrades in Doha and Auckland welcome first passengers

The latest expansion phase of Doha International Airport is set to officially open this Sunday, December 19, Qatar Airways confirmed this week.

As of next week, all passengers arriving at Doha International, the main hub for Middle Eastern carrier Qatar Airways, will arrive into a dedicated arrivals terminal instead of the main building.

The new building provides passengers with a larger number of immigration belts and counters, new duty free outlets, a larger meeting point and new transport links.

The old arrivals area in the main terminal will be converted into new check-in and transfer facilities to cater for the rapidly growing number of transit passengers using Qatar Airways flights.

"It was imperative for the continued development of Qatar that the existing airport infrastructure was expanded," said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.

"The new Doha Arrivals terminal is the latest step in the infrastructure improvements to handle the influx of passengers through the airport."

Doha International handles over 15 million passengers every year, operating over capacity despite several upgrades since 2006.

A new satellite transfer terminal has been added, along with extra boarding gates in 2008, but the airport is still struggling to cope with the boom in travelers caused by increased tourism to Qatar and the success of its flag-carrier.

The new arrivals terminal is a temporary solution, designed to alleviate the capacity problem until the opening of the larger New Doha International Airport in 2012.

Also this week, New Zealand's Auckland Airport opened its new international departure retail area, which offers new retail and food outlets.

Brands such as Apple, Swatch and MAC Cosmetics have been added to the terminal, along with a high-tech architectural centrepiece called "Pou Manawa".

The nine-meter tall Maori-inspired sculpture features a surface area of 577 square meters which displays rotating images depicting themes such as travel, flight and movement.