Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich emirate in the Persian Gulf, has reportedly cancelled a near $3 billion contract for a long-delayed new airport terminal that was due to be dominated by Etihad Airways. Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity to Reuters claim the government-owned airport operator cancelled the contract because of major cost overruns.
The massive 742,000 square metre Midfield Terminal was set to originally open in 2017 but the project has been plagued with delays and there’s no news on when the airport might finally open.
In late 2019, it was claimed construction on the building was 97.6 per cent complete but officials pushed back the opening to an unspecified date in mid-2020. The pandemic has since slowed down the project even further and the Abu Dhabi airport company hasn’t provided an update on the project in over a year.
The building was designed to support the growth of Etihad Airways with the ability to handle as many as 84 million passengers per year. In reality, Etihad Airways is fast shrinking to become a boutique carrier and the Midfield Terminal is unlikely to ever handle nearly as many passengers as it was designed for.
The terminal is also meant to house 30,000 square metres of premium lounges and 28,000 square metres of Duty Free shops. The baggage handling system can handle around 500,000 bags per day and the 65 aircraft gates include eight specially adapted to handle the Airbus A380 – the double-deck aircraft that Etihad will unlikely ever fly again.
In mid-2019, the airport terminal was put through its paces with its first ground handling exercise involving 800 volunteers who simulated passengers arriving and departing from the airport. It’s not known whether the airport has conducted any further trials since.
The consortium involved in the construction project has declined to comment on the rumours and it remains unclear when, if ever, the terminal will open.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.