Abu Dhabi is set to attract about two million more passengers through its airport this year as a major new terminal moves a step closer to completion.
Abu Dhabi's Midfield Terminal, an expansion of the current airport, will be 90 per cent completed by year-end, the airport's chief said yesterday.
"The project will be completed by the end of next year," said Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Airports.
The Midfield Terminal project, which began in September 2012, is a key part of the emirate's push to diversify its economy and boost its tourism and aviation sectors. It is also part of a wider trend where the region is capturing more long-haul air traffic as carriers such as Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways increase capacity through each of their hubs.
Abu Dhabi International Airport attracted about 23 million passengers last year, which will grow by between 8 and 10 per cent this year, Mr Al Mazrouei said.
The new terminal building will be the largest in the entire emirate, covering 70 hectares and it will allow the airport to increase its overall capacity to 45 million passengers a year.
That extra capacity will be important as Abu Dhabi seeks to build its status as an international hub, benefiting the tourism economy, and reducing reliance on oil revenues.
The latest data from the International Air Traffic Association (Iata) shows that while the weak oil price may be causing budgetary problems for regional economies it has benefited the aviation sector as cheaper fuel bills allow carriers to cut fares.
Middle East carriers had their strongest year-on-year demand growth in January, rising by almost 11 per cent, Iata said.
“Underlying conditions point to another strong year for passenger traffic, with the latest decline in oil prices likely to provide additional stimulus for air travel growth,” said Tony Tyler, Iata’s director general and chief executive.
Follow The National's Business section on Twitter