The opening of Abu Dhabi’s massive new airport terminal – the Midfield Terminal Complex – has been delayed yet again and won’t open until some point in 2020 on an as yet to be decided date. Speaking at a recent conference in the UAE capital, Brian Thompson chief executive of the airport’s parent company declined to offer a specific timeline and said the opening date wouldn’t even be revealed until the new year.
But Thompson did announce that the 742,000 square metre terminal building is now over 97 per cent complete and is currently undergoing full operational readiness testing.
“We are in the final stages of completion of the Midfield Terminal, including operational readiness and testing,” Thompson told delegates on the sidelines of an aviation industry conference earlier this week.
“We are keen on giving our passengers the greatest experience ever and we want to ensure that we are 100 per cent ready at the time of opening.”
The Midfield Terminal had originally been expected to open in 2017 but the completion date was quickly pushed back.
Officials had optimistically hinted that the near $3 billion terminal would be open by the end of this year following a full-scale passenger trial in June that involved an army of 800 volunteer ‘passengers’, two widebody aircraft loaned from Etihad Airways, and a whole array of support services like caterers, cleaners and refuelers.
Despite Etihad’s shrinking size, the new mega-terminal is designed to handle in excess of 45 million passengers per year. The baggage handling system has been designed to handle almost half a million bags every single day, while passengers will be able to check-in at one of 154 check-in counters.
If Duty Free shopping is your thing then the Midfield Terminal will have your back. There’s set to be 28,000 square metres of retail and restaurant space, and premium lounges will cover a whopping 30,000 square metres.
“The new terminal will be a point of pride for all Emiratis and a truly exceptional building that represents Abu Dhabi’s welcoming gift to travellers arriving in the emirate,” Thompson explained, going onto say that the terminal would make travelling feel “wondrous”.
Thompson estimates that Air Arabia Abu Dhabi – a new airline partnership between Air Arabia and Etihad would bring in 3.5 million more passengers to the terminal. Last year, officials say the current outdated terminal handled around 21.6 million passengers – that number is likely to drop slightly to an estimated 21.48 million passengers this year.
Despite this year’s estimated drop in passenger traffic, the airport is confident it will see a near doubling on passenger traffic within the next 20 years.