European airports must go 24-hour to compete, says Qatar Airways chief

Gulf airlines benefit because residents don’t make ‘so much fuss’ about aircraft noise, Akbar Al Baker tells UK newspaper

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European airports should open 24 hours a day in order to compete with growing hubs in the Gulf Arab region, the chief executive of Qatar Airways has told a UK newspaper.

Akbar al-Baker said UK residents make “excessive” fuss about aircraft noise, adding that airports in Europe should be allowed to open longer, according to The Telegraph.

“If you live under the flight path of an airplane, I assure you that over a period of time you wouldn’t even hear the aircraft passing over your house,” he reportedly said.

Baker is a board member of Heathrow Airport, which recently submitted revised plans to build a third runway in an attempt to boost capacity.

“If you don’t increase the airport size at Heathrow or Gatwick you will be overtaken by other airports which will then connect to your country by high-speed train,” he told The Telegraph.

Dubai International Airport this year overtook London Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport for international travelers, having handled 18.36 million international passengers in the first quarter of 2014.

Doha in Qatar is also a growing air hub, with the recently opened $17bn Hamad International airport set to grow to handle 50m passengers a year.

Gulf carriers such as Qatar Airways are able to grow more quickly than their European counterparts because local residents “are not making so much fuss” about aircraft noise, the executive added.

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