The opening date for the Abu Dhabi Midfield Terminal, vauled at $3 billion, will be announced next year. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: An opening date for Abu Dhabi’s Midfield Terminal will be announced next year, with the massive 742,000 square metre terminal now more than 97 per cent completed, said senior officials from Abu Dhabi Airports in the capital on Tuesday.

“The current progress of the terminal building; we’re about 97 per cent complete [and] we are focusing right now on testing and commissioning,” said Sulaiman Al Siksek, acting chief programmes officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, on the sidelines of the ACI (Airport Council International) Airport Exchange. “We are also working with our colleagues in operations and all the airport users on operational readiness trials. These activities are currently getting quite advanced, we expect more advanced trials towards the end of this year and early next year,” he added.

“Once we are confident with these trials and airport users are ready; we will announce an opening day,” he said.

The Midfield Terminal was originally scheduled to open in 2017.

For his part, Bryan Thompson, chief executive officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, said the new terminal was entering the aviation industry at a good time, with Abu Dhabi seeing a large number of air travellers.

“The Midfield Terminal building for Abu Dhabi Airports is a fantastic opportunity, it presents us with 45 million passenger annum … and it also allows us at the right time to present capacity into the Abu Dhabi aviation industry.

“The industry has been reset over the past couple of years, Etihad Airways is returning to growth, [and] we’ve got new carriers joining us in Abu Dhabi with Air Arabia Abu Dhabi starting at the end of the second quarter next year,” he added.

“I firmly believe that the confidence in the market from an aviation perspective in Abu Dhabi is returning quite rapidly, and hopefully we get to a case where we quite rapidly outgrow the capacity in [the new] Midfield Terminal,” he said.

Thompson also said that Abu Dhabi Airports was forecasted to end 2019 with over 21 passengers.

“We forecast to be at 21.483 million passengers by end of 2019. We’ve had a very strong second half of 2019.

“[The year] was a fairly slow start from a passengers number perspective but we’ve seen a very strong second half in 2019 in terms of passenger growth month on month, and year on year,” he added.

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi

Commenting on Air Arabia Abu Dhabi’s future operations at the new Midfield Terminal, Thompson said that talks were currently underway between both parties, and that the new budget airline could see its operations starting from the existing terminals.

“Air Arabia Abu Dhabi is still in very close conversations with us in terms of their operation model, so it’s too soon to say where they’ll move into because it’s too soon to say if Midfield Terminal will be operational by the end of the second half of next year.

“Potentially [they could start from the existing terminals] and this is what we need to clarify with them. Their operating model [and] our operating model still has to be found because we haven’t agreed on that just yet,” he added.

“We know what aircraft they’re operating, we don’t what routes they’re operating, so part of the next six months is really working closely together,” he said.