Abu Dhabi International Airport Celebrates 40th Birthday

LONDON – Abu Dhabi, in literal meaning “Father of Gazelle”, celebrated the 40th anniversary of its international airport today.

The airport was first conceived in 1974, and the construction began in 1979, marking its contribution to the state of UAE, and overall Arab Aviation for 40 strong years.

The building was officially opened on 2nd January 1982 for commercial air traffic with a single terminal, spectacular architecture, and building plan.

The Abu Dhabi airport has been through many structural changes to accommodate new demands and even increasing air traffic flows across the Middle East.

Between the late 1990s and early 2000, the airport was expanded to cater to increasing passenger numbers and to accommodate new versions of jets.

In early 2003, Etihad Airways came to an existence as a national carrier and the home airline of Abu Dhabi, which is regarded as the catalyst moment for the rapid growth and further infrastructural development of Abu Dhabi Airport.

Increasing traffic by Etihad airways paved a path for the airport management to open Terminal 2 in late September 2005 along with second runway (13L / 31R) in early 2008 and another Terminal 3 in January 2009, taking the overall capacity of the Abu Dhabi International Airport to 12 million passengers per year. 

Apart from structural advancements, Abu Dhabi Airport has also been the pioneer in many remarkable events that have changed travel patterns.

Abu Dhabi Intentional Airport was the first airport in the Middle East to introduce US Borders and Customs pre clearances granted outside mainline United States borders by the US officials.

Which streamlined the passengers’ movements without waiting for immigration upon arrival at US airports. This move was most welcomed by the surrounding Asian countries as it facilitated safe and quick travel passage.

In 2016, Abu Dhabi International Airport introduced the Smart Travel System, the first of its kind in the Middle Eastern region, which helped passengers process and enhanced the customer experience of those passing through the airport.

On the onsets of the Covid-19 pandemic, Abu Dhabi airport was the first one to introduce contactless gates and evaluators to facilitate passengers’ movements by adhering to health and safety measures.

The new Midfield Terminal Building of Abu Dhabi International Airport was conceptualized at the technological forefront. The construction on this complex began in late 2012 and it’s 98% complete.

Once open for service, the new Midfield Terminal Building will accommodate 45 million passengers annually with an emphasis on exceptional passengers’ experience for the next 40 years.

Chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnon Al Nahyan expressed that, “Abu Dhabi International Airport has connected the world to Abu Dhabi for 40 years and fuelled the emirate’s emergence as a leading destination for tourism, trade, and commerce.”

“It was the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who had the foresight to build the airport and thanks to his vision, Abu Dhabi Airports has built a legacy forged by collaboration, innovation, and service. It is a legacy that will continue to grow over the next 40 years as it supports the ongoing social and economic development of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.”

CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports, Mr. Shareef Al Hashmi also expressed that, “Abu Dhabi International Airport has a proud history of providing world-class infrastructure and topflight service whilst serving as a catalyst for growth for 40 of our proud nation’s 50 years of achievement.”

Mr. Shareef further asserted that “As consumer confidence rebounds and traffic gradually recovers, we will continue to explore new technologies, products, and ways of doing business that will drive improved sustainability and create industry-leading airport experiences. As proud as we are of our past achievements, we are equally excited about our bright future.”

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Ajinkya Gurav

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