Abu Dhabi airport's new terminal has welcomed its first passengers, as operations got off the ground on Wednesday.
The transport hub was more than a decade in the making and is now primed to boost to the capital's economy and tourism sector.
Terminal A will more than double the airport's passenger capacity, with the site able to serve up to 45 million travellers a year. Flights from the terminal will head to 117 destinations.
“This is a momentous occasion for Abu Dhabi Airports and the emirate," said Elena Sorlini, managing director and interim chief executive at Abu Dhabi Airports.
"The official opening of Terminal A today ushers a new era for air travel in Abu Dhabi. I’m grateful for the hard work from my colleagues, and partners across the aviation sector, that has helped us reach this historical milestone.
"We look forward to sharing the state-of-the-art facilities available at Terminal A with the world and welcoming passengers to Abu Dhabi International Airport’s new home.”
Airlines on the move
The airport spans 742,000 square metres, making it one of the largest airport terminals in the world. It will significantly increase the airport’s cargo capacity.
When fully operational, it will use facial recognition technology to screen passengers and minimise waiting times. An advanced luggage handling system will be able to process up to 19,200 bags an hour.
The new terminal has about 35,000 square metres of retail and dining space across 163 outlets.
Airlines will move to the new Terminal A building in three stages over the next two weeks.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and 15 other international airlines had been scheduled to fly from the terminal from Wednesday.
Etihad Airways will operate 16 flights from the terminal from November 9, with 28 other airlines to operate from the terminal from November 14.
The airport will become known as Zayed International Airport from February 9 next year, when the official opening ceremony of the new terminal takes place.
The rebranding was ordered by President Sheikh Mohamed, Abu Dhabi Media Office reported on Tuesday.
Etihad on Tuesday operated the first commercial flight from the new terminal.
Flight EY224, an Airbus A350-1000 with 359 people on board, took off for New Delhi at 2.35pm.
“This is a pivotal and exciting moment in Etihad’s history. As we begin to celebrate our 20th anniversary in November, we are ready for the next growth chapter in our new home," said Antonoaldo Neves, chief executive of Etihad.
Authorities have sought to ensure a smooth transition for passengers flying in and out of the emirate.
Abu Dhabi Airports launched a campaign for passengers to make sure they head to the correct terminal, due to the staggered move to the hub.
Passengers and those picking up or dropping off travellers have been urged to double-check flight information at www.abudhabiairport.ae.