Abu Dhabi Airport welcomes 23m passengers in 2015

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Abu Dhabi Airport welcomes 23m passengers in 2015
An Etihad Airways plan prepares to land at the Abu Dhabi airport, in United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi - 23.3m passengers passed through the airport in 2015 as Etihad Airways expands network.

By Muzaffar Rizvi

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Published: Sat 30 Jan 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 31 Jan 2016, 7:31 AM

Abu Dhabi International Airport on Saturday said it welcomed record 23.3 million passengers in 2015 as Etihad Airways expands its international network, according to latest data.
Abu Dhabi Airport said the capital's air gateway facility recorded 17.2 per cent year-on-year growth in passenger traffic last year while aircraft movements climbed 11.6 per cent to 172,819 from 154,821 in 2014.
The airport, which is under going through $2.9 billion expansion plan, also crossed two million passengers a month mark in December for the second time in 2015 as 2.11 million passed through the airport compared to 1.83 million in the same month last year. In August 2015, the airport handled record 2.5 million passengers while July and September were other busiest months as additional 271 flights per week to various destinations launched during the summer.
Engineer Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operations officer at Abu Dhabi Airport, said Etihad Airways contributed significantly to these traffic figures as more than 74 per cent of the total passengers to and from Abu Dhabi International Airport in 2015 were carried by the national airline, which serves 116 passenger and cargo destinations across the globe.
"We continue to witness double-digit traffic growth at Abu Dhabi International Airport. To cross the two million mark for the first time in our history, for four months of the year, is a testament to the airport's ability to connect the world," Al Haddabi said.
Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London-based Strategic Aero Research, said it is evident that the growth of traffic at Abu Dhabi International is being realised through the disciplined and dual organic and inorganic expansion via Etihad Airways.
"The airport managed to surpass 23 million passengers shows that the opening of the new Midfield Terminal next summer cannot come soon enough as this will allow Etihad to truly unlock its growth potential much akin to how Emirates has done so at Dubai International and its home at Terminal 3," Ahmad told Khaleej Times.
Etihad Airways carried 17.4 million passengers last year, an increase of 18.4 per cent over 2014 as the airline expanded its network through Alitalia and Jet Airways and increased traffic from Italy, India and the United States.
Ahmad said near 20 per cent passenger growth also highlights the success of Etihad's equity and stake partners, who are using Abu Dhabi as a connection post for onward travel.
"While Dubai International gets ever congested, the short hop to Abu Dhabi International becomes more of an appealing transit and travel point, although this will change when Al Maktoum International adds more runways and more capacity," he said.
The latest data shows that traffic between Abu Dhabi and the US surged by 39.4 per cent last year due to several new direct services launched by Etihad Airways. The airline's initiative to launch A380 superjumbo on its Abu Dhabi-London Heathrow route also increased passenger traffic to the UK by 27.5 per cent in 2015. Australia and Germany were other busy routes with 30 per cent and 15 per cent jump in traffic last year.
India, the UK, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the US, which together recorded more than nine million passengers through Abu Dhabi last year, were among the strongest five country destinations, the data shows. "During the first quarter, we opened expanded facilities in Terminal 1, part of a broader capacity enhancement programme, to ensure that passengers using Abu Dhabi International Airport will always enjoy a world class experience," Al Haddabi said.
The airport's 700,000 sqm Midfield Terminal Building will boost the airport capacity to 30 million passengers annually.
- muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com

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