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Abu Dhabi International Airport plans Dh21b expansion

BY JAMILA QADIR / 5 May 2005

DUBAI — Abu Dhabi announced Dh21 billion expansion plan of the Abu Dhabi International Airport. The master plan involves the construction of a new midfield passenger terminal, a second runway at a distance of 2,000 metres from the existing runway, cargo and maintenance facilities and other commercial developments on land immediately adjacent to and north of the existing airport. The first phase is due to be completed by 2010.

Once completed, the project will also provide a top-quality home base for Etihad, helping it to continue the steady expansion of its operations, Overall, the project will see a doubling of the existing airport land area to 3,400 hectares, with dedicated buffer zones to the north and south.

The new facilities will be designed for an initial handling capacity of 20 million passengers a year when they open in five years’ time, and an ultimate capacity of 50 million passengers a year.

The announcement was made at the Arabian Travel Market 2005 yesterday by Khalifa Al Mazrouei, chairman of Supervision Committee for Expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport (SCADIA), on behalf of Shaikh Ahmed bin Saif Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Civil Aviation Department and President of Etihad Airways.

Al Mazrouei said: “As the capital continues to expand, Abu Dhabi International Airport will be even better placed to provide access to the greater metropolitan area. Once completed, the expanded airport facilities should be sufficient to meet projected demand for another 50 years.”

The master plan for the project has been completed by New York-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, while another US firm, Parsons International has been appointed as the programme managers. Phase one of the project is scheduled start in four months' time. Earthworks will start one month prior to the completion of the design, which will take 18 months to complete.

Another key part of the project is the provision of a substantial increase in cargo facilities, with an ultimate handling capacity of around two million tonnes of freight a year. A major user will be Etihad Airways, which has identified air freight, in particular transit cargo, as one of its key growth areas. The other airlines currently serving Abu Dhabi International Airport will also benefit from the expansion.

Close to the new cargo facilities land has been allocated for related commercial activities, including free trade zones. Aircraft maintenance facilities will continue to be concentrated on the south side of the existing airport. The plan also sets aside land for the growth of other operators, such as Royal Jet and Abu Dhabi Aviation.

One of the first phases of the project will be the construction of a second runway, scheduled to start next month. Planned at 4,100 metres in length, the new runway is widely spaced allowing for complete independent operations and is designed to cater for the latest generation of aircraft, including the new double-decker Airbus 380. Etihad Airways is due to take delivery of its first A 380 in 2007. 

Al Mazrouei said that Abu Dhabi International Airport, which has been recording 20 per cent year-on-year growth in passenger traffic for the last four years, was running over capacity. The airport was designed to handle 3.5 million passengers, while the current demand is 5.2 million. With the completion of the airport expansion five years away, SCADIA has begun implementation of a number of interim projects to cope with the capacity constraints in the existing facilities and continued passenger growth. A Dh100 million contract has been awarded for the construction of nine new Code E/F aircraft stands, and another one, worth Dh110 million for the construction of a new Terminal 2 and refurbishment of Gate 3 in the existing terminal.

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