Qatar unprepared for World Cup air traffic crush, report says
Qatar’s preparations for a World Cup air traffic crush look set to be hampered by a shortage of fuel, according to a report published by Reuters on Monday.
The report, based on interviews with Qatar’s top officials and pilots, revealed that the country had begun running out of fuel in January and had not ordered the new jets for the World Cup, which opens in June.
“I couldn’t take it. I felt sick,” one air traffic controller told Reuters in an interview. “The air traffic is in chaos. The planes are being diverted.”
The report comes amid a row over fuel costs as Qatar seeks to raise around $350m to cover the cost of a mega air traffic crush at the World Cup. Qatar refused to pay for its own air traffic control system, which was built and run by the UAE, in the hope that the tournament will be hosted by a neutral country.
“There was a sense of the air traffic congestion and the World Cup air traffic crush will hit Qatar where it hurts – and that is the pockets,” a senior Qatari official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Qatar has said it will pay for the world’s biggest air traffic system but will not pay the full cost for the air traffic control system, which is widely feared to become the most expensive air traffic control system in the world.
Qatar has sought to persuade the World Cup organisers to choose Qatar as their host while also paying for a local air traffic control system, but the tournament is so far only taking place in South Korea’s Gwangju.
Qatar signed a deal last month with China to allow Chinese crews to fly from Doha to South Korea to help with the World Cup. But there are fears that the cost of that arrangement will be borne by Qatar.
The report published on Monday said that the cost of the air traffic control system could rise to $800m and would end up costing Qatar about $390m. But Qatar is willing to pay for it if the tournament