UAE: Opening date announced for new terminal at Abu Dhabi airport

Facial recognition to ease travel: Terminal A will be the first in the world to include all 9 biometric airport touchpoints

by

Sahim Salim

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Published: Mon 16 Oct 2023, 3:26 PM

Last updated: Thu 26 Oct 2023, 4:06 PM

Abu Dhabi International Airport’s Terminal A will begin operations on November 1, it was announced on Monday. Etihad Airways will operate a ceremonial flight on October 31, ahead of the official opening to public.

Airlines will transition into Terminal A in three phases over a two-week period:


  • Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and 15 other international airlines will start flying from the new terminal on November 1.
  • From November 9, Etihad Airways will operate 16 daily flights. It will go fully operational from its new home on November 14, along with Air Arabia Abu Dhabi and 10 other airlines.
  • From November 14, 28 airlines will be fully operational from Terminal A.

The world got its first glimpse at the new terminal when the UAE decked it up to welcome home Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi after his six-month mission in space.

One of the largest terminals in the world, it will double the current airport capacity, with the capability to accommodate up to 45 million passengers per year. At triple the size of the previous terminal, and with flights to 117 destinations worldwide, it will increase both the frequency and reach of flights to and from Abu Dhabi.


Your face to ease your travel

Terminal A will be the first in the world to include all nine biometric airport touchpoints. In the first phase, this will see biometric solutions installed in key areas, such as self-service bag drops, immigration eGates and boarding gates.

When fully operational, it will use facial recognition technology to screen passengers and minimise wait times.

Other hi-tech facilities include a baggage handling system capable of processing up to 19,200 bags per hour.

Retail therapy

When fully operational, Terminal A will have 35,000 square metres of retail space with 163 shops. These include Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Ferragamo, and the world’s first Muji airport store.

Dining outlets include Jones the Grocer, Taste of India, Starbucks, Camden Food Co., McDonalds and TGI Fridays. Additionally, Todd English will open its his first airport restaurant. It also features two health and beauty spas and a 138-bedroom hotel.

Design that tells the Abu Dhabi story

The X-shaped building has been designed to improve operational efficiency and passenger flow with four themed piers inspired by Abu Dhabi’s desert, sea, city and oasis natural landscapes. It also features the Sana Al Nour, which is one of the largest indoor public art features in the Middle East, standing at 22 metres tall and 17 metres wide.

Terminal A is designed to reduce water consumption, while more than 7,500 solar panels power a 3MW plant will save 5,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. A first-of-its-kind system in the Middle East will allow planes to land quickly and safely during low-visibility weather conditions.

Operational trials

Operational readiness trials will conclude on October 17. The trials involved more than 11,000 volunteers from the Abu Dhabi community. These included Abu Dhabi Airports staff members, students, families and stakeholders from the aviation community. They stress-tested end-to-end passenger journeys encompassing systems, equipment, staff and procedures in key operating areas such as check-in, baggage, security screening, immigration and boarding.

The successful completion of these trials is a key milestone in ensuring Terminal A is ready for opening to the public in November.

Elena Sorlini, managing director and interim CEO at Abu Dhabi Airports, said: “We will see a rapid increase in the number of flights operating from Terminal A from November 1 to 14, and I’m excited by the new opportunities and experiences which the iconic facility will bring to both airlines and passengers. Terminal A will drive the growth of the aviation sector in Abu Dhabi and play an instrumental role in welcoming more businesses and tourists to the emirate for decades to come.”

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