Abu Dhabi: Etihad Airways is currently serving 31 destinations to and from Terminal 3 at Abu Dhabi International Airport with an average of 70 flights per day, Gulf News has learnt.

The Dh1-billion Terminal 3 will enable the airport to serve up to 12 million passengers a year, an increase of more than 5 million.

Terminal 3 is part of Abu Dhabi Airport Company's (ADAC) Dh25 billion development plan intended to expand airport capacity to meet the projected increase in business and leisure traffic, the growth of Etihad and the demand from other airlines wishing to fly into Abu Dhabi.

Other projects due for completion by 2012 include the second runway, new air traffic control tower and Midfield Terminal Complex.

Etihad currently serves Almaty, Bahrain, Bangkok, Beijing, Brisbane, Brussels, Dammam, Doha, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, Jakarta, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, London Heathrow, Manchester, Manila, Melbourne, Milan, Minsk, Moscow, Mumbai, Munich, Muscat, New Delhi, Paris, Riyadh, Singapore, Sydney and Toronto from Terminal 3.

Shaikha Al Maskari, Vice-President of Corporate Affairs at ADAC, told Gulf News that most of ADAC's initiatives for the airport are long-term and in line with the Abu Dhabi government's 2030 strategy that keeps them insulated from the global financial crisis.

"Our initiatives are long- term and based on a 2030 vision; we're not thinking of tomorrow, we're thinking of the next 20 years ahead and will introduce more infrastructure and projects along the way.

"Abu Dhabi Airport has witnessed steady growth in the number of passengers with an increase of 30 per cent compared to last year

"The increase may not be as much as we expected, but it definitely keeps us in line with the vision of Abu Dhabi in general, which is not really affected by the crisis that much. Our economy remains stable and I believe the crisis is temporary, things will eventually pick up where they need to," Al Maskari said.

Khalifa Mohammad Al Mazrouei, chairman of ADAC, described the opening of Terminal 3 as a boost to Abu Dhabi's investment, tourism and commerce.

"We consider Abu Dhabi's international airport as a gateway to the region and the world, and the first point of contact with tourists, businessmen and transit passengers from all over the world," adding that the Midfield Terminal Complex will be able to handle more than 20 million passengers a year.

Terminal 3 opened in the fourth quarter of last year, and flights have been using it since October with passengers on selected flights checking in normally in Terminals 1 and 1A and then transported by bus to the departure gate at Terminal 3 adjacent to Terminal 1.

Arrivals have been using the new terminal since December. In January ADAC and Etihad Airways also began trials for arriving and connecting passengers using different aircraft types.

The terminal has ten departure gates, of which two are A380-compatible and two are bus gates, with 20 dedicated premium check-in facilities.

It covers a built up area of 88,000 square metres. Construction of a new multi-storey car park is expected to be completed next month.

The new duty free has 19 boutiques including the first Hermes branch in an airport in the Middle East, along with Cartier, Fendi, Salvatore Ferragamo, Rolex, Jimmy Choo, Loewe and Chloe.

Boots Pharmacy, Relay, Sharaf Consumer Technology and Pure Gold, and seven catering outlets - Bill Bentley's, Cinnabon, Dominos, Hippopotamus, Burger King, Starbucks and Segafredo - are also featured.

There are also two spa centres in the First and Business class areas.