Abu Dhabi International Airport is set to open its long-anticipated new terminal building to the public on November 1, with airlines shifting their operations in phases before starting flights next month.
Airlines will move to the new Terminal A building in three phases over a two-week period from November 1 to November 14, after Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways operates a ceremonial flight on October 31, state-owned operator Abu Dhabi Airports said on Monday.
From November 1, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and 15 other international airlines are scheduled to fly from the new terminal. From November 9, Etihad Airways will operate 16 flights from the terminal. And from November 14, a total of 28 airlines will operate from the terminal.
“We will see a rapid increase in the number of flights operating from Terminal A as of November 1st to the 14th, and I’m excited by the new opportunities and experiences which the iconic facility will bring to both airlines and passengers,” said Elena Sorlini, managing director and interim chief executive of Abu Dhabi Airports.
“Terminal A will drive the growth of the aviation sector in Abu Dhabi and play an instrumental role in welcoming more businesses and tourists to the emirate for decades to come.”
Trial operations will finish on October 17, paving the way for the terminal's opening in November. In total, the trials involved more than 11,000 volunteers.
The new terminal building is set to bolster Abu Dhabi's position as a global business and tourism hub.
Terminal A will double the current airport's capacity – able to handle up to 45 million passengers per year.
At triple the size of the old terminal, and with flights to 117 destinations globally, it will increase the frequency and reach of flights to and from Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Airports said on Monday.
Covering 742,000 square metres of built-up area, Terminal A is one of the largest airport terminals in the world and will significantly increase Abu Dhabi International Airport’s passenger and cargo capacity.
This comes as Abu Dhabi is seeking to diversify non-oil sectors – as part of wider plans to reduce the economy's reliance on oil – with a focus on developing strategic industries including travel, tourism, cargo and logistics.
The new terminal's opening comes amid a massive boom in air travel as the global aviation industry recovers from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Global passenger traffic had rebounded to 95.7 per cent of pre-Covid levels in August, the International Air Transport Association said in its latest monthly report.
"The upcoming launch of operations at Terminal A marks an incredible milestone in Abu Dhabi's journey as a global hub for travel and tourism," Saood Al Hosani, Undersecretary of Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi, told The National.
Airport shopping, dining and biometrics
The terminal will have nine main biometric touchpoints including self-service baggage drops, immigration e-gates and boarding gates, Abu Dhabi Airports said.
“Terminal A will prioritise the passenger experience, facilitating a streamlined service from kerb-to-gate,” the operator said.
When fully operational, it will use facial recognition technology to screen passengers and minimise wait times. An advanced baggage handling system will be capable of processing up to 19,200 bags an hour.
“Terminal A is poised to deliver a seamless passenger journey to travellers like never before,” Abu Dhabi Airports said.
When fully operational, Terminal A will span 35,000 square meters of shopping, with 163 retail stores and food and beverage outlets, offering a wide variety of shopping and dining options.
Terminal A will be home to luxury brands including Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Ferragamo among others, as well as the world’s first Muji airport store.
The terminal will also feature two health and beauty spas, along with a 138-room hotel and an open-air lounge.
In terms of eco-friendly operations, Terminal A will reduce water consumption by 45 per cent, while more than 7,500 solar panels power a three mega-watt plant that currently saves 5,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
Meanwhile, an advanced surface movement control system, the first of its kind in the Middle East, will allow planes to land quickly and safely during low-visibility weather conditions, said the operator.