The Midfield Terminal building under construction in Abu Dhabi. When complete, the Midfield Terminal will span 742,000 square metres. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi’s new Midfield Terminal will boost the aviation sector in the UAE rapidly, the CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports said on Monday. He, however, did not give a specific timeline when the new Dh10 billion terminal would be opened.

“When MTB [midfield terminal building] opens we will have excess capacity which will allow us to attract demand and grow the UAE’s aviation sector more broadly and very rapidly,” Bryan Thompson told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

Giving an update on the new terminal, he said the operational readiness and testing has commenced in various parts of Abu Dhabi’s Midfield Terminal and baggage handling system has been commissioned.

“We can confirm that operational readiness and testing has commenced in various parts of the building to make sure that we are gearing up and creating confidence both within Adac [Abu Dhabi Airports Company] but also within the airlines that are going to operate.”

When MTB [midfield terminal building] opens we will have excess capacity which will allow us to attract demand and grow the UAE’s aviation sector more broadly and very rapidly

- Bryan Thompson

When asked whether the new terminal will be ready in the fourth quarter of 2019 as announced previously, he said they are trying to make sure that they are 100 per cent ready at the time of opening.

“We are working towards a date to have that operational but for now we are keeping that under wraps.”

Abu Dhabi Airports previously announced that Midfield Terminal would open in the fourth quarter of 2019. When complete, the Midfield Terminal will span 742,000 square metres, and along with the existing terminals at Abu Dhabi International Airport will serve the increasing number of passengers flying through Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi Airports is also targeting to grow point-to-point (origin and destination) traffic by additional 1.4 million visits by 2021 from the current figure of 7.7 million passengers.

“The market has been slightly different for the past two years because of the changes predominantly the home carriers both Etihad and its partner airlines have gone through a time where they have to structurally reset. So our growth as an industry within Abu Dhabi has been fairly challenged because of the structural reset within the industry.”

“Looking forward, for the next 12 months we don’t see huge growth coming into Abu Dhabi but we do see once the airline has reset itself, that its new strategy has come into place with the new fleet, we will see that Abu Dhabi will return to growth.”

Abu Dhabi Airports is also trying to boost its free zone and property development portfolio as part of its next phase of development.

“Abu Dhabi fee zone is a key next development. We have reduced our fees by 66 per cent over the past year. It allows us to have a tax free environment with zero per cent charges on imports and exports. There is no currency restrictions and no real restrictions on what type of businesses can trade within it.”