Photos: First look inside new Abu Dhabi International Airport Terminal A

One of the world's biggest airport terminals is scheduled to begin operations in early November this year

by

Angel Tesorero

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Photos by Angel Tesorero
Photos by Angel Tesorero

Published: Tue 19 Sep 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 17 Oct 2023, 9:28 AM

[Editor's Note: This article, first published on Sept 19, is recirculated as authorities have announced the date to begin operations at Terminal A.]

On Monday, September 18, UAE media were given a sneak peek of the state-of-the-art Abu Dhabi International Airport Terminal A, which is set to commence operations in early November this year.


Covering 742,000 square metres of built-up area, Terminal A is not only among the world’s biggest airport terminals, its architecture is also both expansive and impressive, reflecting a merging of tradition and modernity.

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New building of Abu Dhabi International Airport Terminal A. — Supplied photo
New building of Abu Dhabi International Airport Terminal A. — Supplied photo

The most remarkable feature of the international gateway is the shape of the building – patterned like undulating sand dunes and based on the concept of “pearl in the desert”. Terminal A features a long, flowing curved roof that resembles a shell, while natural light and green spaces dominate its interior to create a strong sense of space and openness.

Photo: WAM
Photo: WAM
Photo: WAM
Photo: WAM

The symmetrical high ceilings enhance the sprawling and seemingly lightweight feel inside the terminal, as columns and supporting arches are placed unobtrusively to enhance the free movement of people.

Trial phase

Currently, around 6,000 volunteers are taking part in the live trial of airport procedures, including check-in and baggage, security screening, boarding gates, immigration and customs.

Elena Sorlini, managing director and interim CEO at Abu Dhabi Airports, earlier said volunteers are testing the speed and accuracy of the process for passengers, fine-tuning document and customs inspections. She noted: “Our commitment to excellence has driven our journey to prepare for Terminal A’s opening, as we are focused on conducting extensive large-scale assessments to ensure the speed, efficiency and delivery of operations.”

Latest technologies

Aside from very impressive architecture, Terminal A also boasts of the latest technologies in airport management, including interconnected biometric systems that will provide passengers a seamless experience from pre-travel to boarding gate. There are self-service kiosks, streamlined security checkpoints and state-of-the-art baggage handling systems.

The terminal will also have world-class amenities, including luxurious lounges, relaxation zones, and spa facilities where travellers can rest before or after their flights. There will also be retail and food and beverage outlets catering to various tastes and preferences.

According to reports, Etihad Airways, Wizz Air and Air Arabia Abu Dhabi will be moving to Terminal A.

In September, as part of the ongoing operational readiness trials for the new Terminal A, Abu Dhabi Airports is conducting its largest live trial and testing exercise to date. The systems and processes that wer tested include check-in and baggage, security screening, boarding gates, immigration and customs. At immigration, volunteers are testing the speed and accuracy of the process for passengers, fine-tuning document and customs inspections. Meanwhile, at boarding and departure, tests included scanning the boarding passes of volunteers and assessing procedural preparedness to communicate changes in flight information.

6,000 volunteers selected from the community in Abu Dhabi for the trial
6,000 volunteers selected from the community in Abu Dhabi for the trial

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