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Abu Dhabi Airport Debuts Long-Awaited New Terminal

After years of delays, Abu Dhabi International airport will be able to compete in the regional rivalry.

Abu Dhabi Terminal A (Photo: Abu Dhabi Airports)

Following over a decade of construction and operational limbo, the new Terminal A, formerly known as the Midfield terminal, at the Abu Dhabi airport has been officially opened. Originally scheduled to commence operations in 2017, the building suffered a “timing incident.” With the original intent to become a home hub for the ever-growing Etihad Airways, the strategy changed in the time when the carrier started to scale down its operations. The area of 742,000 square meters that the new Terminal A brings to the table is a major step up over the existing Terminals 1-3.

The United Arab Emirates national carrier is scheduled to progressively move all its operations to Terminal A between November 9 and Nov. 14, 2023. On November 1, a day after the opening ceremony, 16 of the carriers operating at Abu Dhabi airport will use the new building. A bit over two weeks later, On November 16 all 28 airlines will operate there.

Abu Dhabi airport with the new Terminal A between the two runways and the existing Terminals 1-3 south of the runways (Photo: Google Maps)

Pearl in the Desert

The Government of Abu Dhabi, with the Ruler of Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, envisioned the project as one of the shaping stones for the capital of the United Arab Emirates years earlier, in 2006. The plan of “Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030” sets 7 priorities for the growing UAE’s economy. Two of them, referring to building a strong infrastructure to support the growth and building a globally integrated business environment, are directly supported by the development of the Abu Dhabi Airport.

Abu Dhabi Terminal A (Photo: Abu Dhabi Airports)

Etihad’s New Home

With flight ‌EY224, from Abu Dhabi to New Delhi, Etihad has welcomed the first guests onboard that had the opportunity to try out the new terminal. As it usually is the case with the inaugural flights they could experience quite the spectacle. ‌To commemorate the occasion, all passengers, including those in both Economy and Business classes, had the unique opportunity to be the inaugural guests at the new flagship Etihad Lounges, which span three floors in Terminal A. ‌The short celebration with themed decorations and a photo followed at gate C27. At 2.35 p.m. local time, the flight took off with 359 passengers on board.

Terminal A celebration at the gate (Photo: Etihad)


UAE’s Commitment to Its Legacy

With all the thrills ahead, in UAE it is not forgotten what is already behind. A development of today is that Abu Dhabi International Airport is set to be renamed Zayed International Airport. This change, ordered by President Sheikh Mohamed, will be effective from Feb. 9, 2024. It will symbolize the commitment to honoring the legacy and vision of the late President Sheikh Zayed.

Filip Kopeć


  • Filip Kopeć

    A passionate aviation enthusiast that started off his career as an aerospace engineer, but found his true calling on the commercial side of the airline business. Now as a finance guy among avgeeks and an avgeek among finance guys, he has experience working in the Revenue Divisions of three airlines. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, but admittedly sometimes is more about the journey than the destination.

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