Abu Dhabi Airports Accelerates Terminal A Trials Ahead of November Opening

Kevin Rozario


October 11, 2023

mod auh lr Terminal A min tcm8 40980

© Abu Dhabi Airports

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is conducting its largest-ever live trial and testing exercises to ensure the operational readiness of the new Terminal A (formerly called the Midfield Terminal), scheduled to open in on November 1.

More than 6,000 volunteers are taking part in simulations designed to stress-test the equipment, staff, and procedures in key operating areas of the terminal. As well as staff members from AUH’s joint stock operator, Abu Dhabi Airports (ADA), the volunteers also include students, families, and stakeholders from the aviation ecosystem.

The systems and processes that are being checked include check-in and baggage, security screening, boarding gates, immigration and customs. At immigration, volunteers are testing the speed and accuracy of the document and customs inspections, while at boarding and departure, the tests include the scanning of boarding passes and assessing procedures for communicating changes regarding flight information.

When Terminal A finally opens on November, 1 it is expected by ADA to offer a seamless biometric journey in a state-of-the-art terminal that is now six years delayed from its original opening date. AUH is ADA’s flagship gateway but the company also operates four other airports in the emirate: Al Ain International Airport, Abu Dhabi’s second international airport; Al Bateen Executive Airport dedicated to business aviation; plus the smaller gateways of Delma Island and Sir Bani Yas Island.

Once fully operational, Terminal A at AUH will accommodate 45 million people and process 11,000 passengers per hour and it is hoped that the new facility will make AUH a global hub for trade and business. Traffic at the airport rose by 67% to 10.3 million in the first half of the year versus H1 2022, with Mumbai, London, Delhi, Kochi, and Doha the top travel destinations.

mod auh abu dhabi Terminal A close up

There are airy, open spaces inside the terminal.

© Abu Dhabi Airports

Abu Dhabi is the richest of the UAE’s seven emirates as it has the majority of oil and gas in the country, but is often overshadowed by the emirate of Dubai next door and its airport which is the busiest international gateway in the world. It is hoped that the new world-class Terminal A will mark a significant milestone for the emirate and transform the local aviation ecosystem, tourism, and boost its position as a global hub for trade and business.

“A Pivotal Driver”

ADA’s Chairman, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, said: “As Abu Dhabi’s new gateway to the world, Terminal A is an embodiment of our commitment to support the emirate’s sustainable economic development. The opening of the facility—which is on par with the largest and grandest on our planet—turns over a new page in Abu Dhabi’s 55-year aviation history (and) will be a pivotal driver for our emirate’s growth by spurring tourism and trade.”

Covering 742,000 square meters of built-up area, Terminal A is among the largest airport terminals in the world and will significantly increase AUH’s passenger and cargo capacity with the ability to handle 79 aircraft at any given time.

Architecturally, Terminal A has won several international design awards and will become a landmark in its own right. The building’s glass exterior maximizes natural light and creates a huge volume of space inside. In line with the UAE’s sustainability aspirations, the terminal features energy-efficient lighting, advanced heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, and has incorporated sustainable materials in its construction.

A fully integrated solar photovoltaic (PV) system on the car park roof powers a three-megawatt plant saving nearly 5,300 tonnes of CO₂ annually. This is a major step in realizing ADA’s commitment to limiting its operational carbon footprint.

From a passenger perspective, the terminal has an array of amenities, including luxurious lounges, relaxation zones, and spa facilities, as well as 163 retail and food and beverage outlets catering to a wide variety of tastes and preferences that target both leisure and business travelers.

Elena Sorlini, Managing Director and Interim CEO at ADA said that the new facility would provide international passengers with “exceptional services that meet the evolving priorities of today’s travelers.” She added that Terminal A would “strengthen Abu Dhabi’s position on the world stage.”