Abu Dhabi Airport Unveils Ambitious Expansion Plans

Abu Dhabi Airport’s newly opened Terminal A is gearing up for a significant expansion, with the aim of attracting more airlines and increasing passenger capacity to 65 million within the next decade, up from the current 45 million. The move is part of a broader strategy to position Abu Dhabi as a global business and tourism hub.

The airport, operated by Abu Dhabi Airports, currently serves 28 airlines, including recent additions such as Air France, Aeroflot, Pobeda, and Smartwings. Elena Sorlini, Managing Director and Interim CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports, emphasized the importance of government-to-government relations in expanding the airport’s reach, particularly targeting Asia and China.

With the new Terminal A boasting 163 shops and restaurants, the airport aims to enhance connectivity and leverage its US pre-clearance facility, a rarity shared by only 15 airports globally. The expansion plans align with the growth strategy of Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi’s home carrier, which aims to triple passenger numbers to 33 million and double its fleet to 150 planes by 2030.

Ms. Sorlini outlined the phased approach to expansion, ensuring flexibility and readiness for increased demand. In 2023, Terminal A is projected to handle 22 million passengers, signaling a continuous upward trajectory from the 21.9 million recorded in 2019. Despite global economic uncertainties, including inflationary pressures and geopolitical tensions, the airport has seen a robust 50% increase in passenger traffic through October compared to the same period in 2022.

The airport’s response to this growth includes a substantial increase in its workforce, a combination of direct hires and outsourcing contracts to third-party companies. As Terminal A takes center stage, discussions are ongoing about the future of Terminal 1, with various options under consideration to preserve its historical significance.

In conclusion, Abu Dhabi Airport’s expansion plans and Terminal A’s strategic initiatives position the UAE capital as a key player in the global aviation landscape, fostering tourism, trade, and air cargo growth.