The first phase of the New Doha International Airport (NDIA) is to hire 8,000 employees in the run-up to its opening later this year, the airport’s CEO has said. The upgraded facility, which could be one of the region\'s major aviation hubs, has already hired 3,000 staff and is in the process of recruiting a further 5,000 in time for the launch, Akbar Al Baker said. “We have already started to recruit the staff since last year,” he told Arabian Business this week. “We need nearly 8,000. We have nearly recruited 3,000 and we are in the process of recruiting the rest.” NDIA began construction in 2004 and is being completed in three phases. The US$14.5bn project forms a key part of Qatar’s national development strategy. The hub will replace the old airport and help accommodate the rapid growth seen in passenger and cargo traffic in recent years. Home to the state’s flag carrier Qatar Airways, it will be the world’s first airport designed and built specifically for the Airbus double-decker A380 -the largest passenger aircraft ever built. The 2,200-hectare site is located 4km east of the old airport and is 50 percent reclaimed land. Upon completion of the third and final phase in 2015, NDIA will house 80 contact gates, 25,000 sqm of retail space and lounges, in addition to multi-story short-term and long-term parking facilities. The first phase will open on December 12 this year and is expected to handle 24m passengers annually. This is forecast to double to around 50m by the time the airport is fully operational in 2015.