Etihad Airways’ new Dh10.8 billion home at Abu Dhabi International, scheduled to open three years from today on July 17, 2017, will be key to the airlines growth.
“A key calling card of the Gulf carriers is service quality so its imperative for Etihad to have state of the art facilities to keep up with Emirates and Qatar [Airways],” John Strickland, Director of JLS Consulting told Gulf News in an email.
The Midfield Terminal, approved for construction by the Abu Dhabi government in 2012, will be operational several years after neighbouring Dubai and Qatar opened their new airports.
Dubai opened Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central to passenger traffic in late 2013. The airport could have a capacity of 200 million passengers a year by 2025. Hamad International opened this year after several years of delay with an initial capacity of 30 million passengers a year.
The 30 million passenger capacity Midfield Terminal was originally conceived to accommodate all airlines flying into Abu Dhabi International.
However, Etihad’s inorganic strategy of buying hefty, but non controlling, stakes in airlines has forced a change in plan. The terminal, with 65 aircraft gates, will now be home to Etihad and its codeshare and equity stake airlines.
Etihad has 213 aircraft scheduled for delivery before 2025.
Etihad currently holds stakes in Aer Lingus, Air Serbia, Air Berlin, Air Seychelles, Jet Airways and Virgin Australia. It is awaiting regulatory approval to take a stake in Etihad Regional, formerly Swiss carrier Darwin Airline, and is moving on a deal to take a stake in Alitalia.
All other airlines will operate out of the existing airport, which by 2017 will have a capacity of 23 million passengers, said Tony Douglas, Abu Dhabi Airports chief executive, in a previous interview with Gulf News.
The Midfield Terminal, already starting to overshadow the existing airport, is set to be the largest building in Abu Dhabi.
The Midfield Terminal Building is being constructed by a joint venture between Greek Consolidated Contractors Company, Turkey’s TAV and local partner Arabtec. Abu Dhabi Airports is overseeing the construction as part of a wider Capacity Enhancement Programme (CEP) at Abu Dhabi International.
Ape Eke, a senior economist at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), told Gulf News in an emailed statement that the by 2020 Abu Dhabi’s aviation expansion is estimated to create an additional 30,000 jobs.