Exciting developments are on the horizon for Abu Dhabi’s aviation sector as a new airport terminal, capable of accommodating up to 45 million passengers annually, is scheduled to open its doors in November. This significant expansion is set to intensify competition within the Gulf region’s bustling aviation market.
Terminal A, located in the oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is poised to become one of the world’s largest airport terminals. With the capacity to handle 11,000 travelers per hour and accommodate 79 aircraft simultaneously, this state-of-the-art facility is primed for a major debut, as reported by the WAM news agency.
The eagerly anticipated terminal, also known as the Midfield Terminal Building, has been slated for an early November 2023 launch. This strategic timing aligns with the UAE’s preparations for the United Nations’ COP28 climate conference, scheduled to take place in Dubai in November and December. As a result, the nation is bracing for an influx of visitors, making the opening of Terminal A all the more pivotal.
This milestone development comes as Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi’s neighbor, rapidly expands its airport capabilities. Saudi Arabia recently announced plans for a colossal new aviation hub in Riyadh, with projections to accommodate up to 120 million passengers by 2030 and a staggering 185 million by 2050.
Comparatively, Abu Dhabi’s airport traffic in the first half of this year reached approximately 10 million passengers. Although a noteworthy figure, it pales in comparison to Dubai, the adjacent emirate known for its bustling aviation hub, which welcomed an impressive 41.6 million passengers during the same period.
Further fueling competition, Qatar, another prominent transit stop in the affluent Gulf region, completed a multibillion-dollar expansion ahead of last year’s FIFA World Cup. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah, situated near Mecca, is on track to bolster its capacity to accommodate between 70 to 80 million passengers by 2035.
Terminal A, covering a sprawling 742,000 square meters of built-up area, ranks among the world’s largest airport terminals. Its construction was initiated in 2012 when Abu Dhabi’s state-owned airport operator inked a 10.8-billion-dirham ($2.94 billion) contract with a consortium of firms to undertake this ambitious project.
Significantly, Terminal A will serve as the new home for Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national carrier, reinforcing its pivotal role in the country’s aviation landscape.
In March of this year, Saudi Arabia, following the announcement of Riyadh’s new airport, introduced Riyadh Air, a new airline, and placed an order for 78 Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets. These significant investments underscore the Gulf region’s determination to diversify their economies, particularly as they anticipate a potential decline in hydrocarbon demand in the years ahead.
As Abu Dhabi gears up to unveil its cutting-edge Terminal A, the aviation sector in the UAE is poised for transformative growth. This major expansion promises to enhance the nation’s connectivity and solidify its status as a key player in the global aviation industry.