The President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is to rename Abu Dhabi International Airport after his father, the late Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, with the airport set to be officially called Zayed International Airport as of February 9, 2024.
The announcement was made on the same day that the airport’s new Terminal A, which was previously referred to as the Midfield Terminal during the construction phase, started passenger operations.
The national carrier of the UAE, Etihad Airways, operated the first commercial passenger flight from the terminal on Tuesday with a service to New Delhi, India, which departed the 742,000 square metre terminal at 2:35 pm on October 31.
Etihad won’t actually start operating any other flights from Terminal A until November 9, when it will shift 16 flights from the old Terminal 3 building, and the airline doesn’t plan to transfer all flights to Terminal A until November 14.
During the transition phase, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and 15 other airlines will start operating from Terminal A on November 1.
In a short statement, Abu Dhabi officials said Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan had issued directives to rename the airport Zayed International Airport on February 9, 2024, when the official opening ceremony of Terminal A is slated to take place.
What we don’t know yet is whether there will be an attempt to change the official airport code of AUH to match the new official name of the airport.
Airport codes are set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and because it’s such a complicated process, it’s incredibly rare for the three-digit code to be changed.
That’s generally because the IATA code often matches the city name, although there are some anomalies, such as Mumbai airport still being referred to by that IATA code of BOM for the city’s old name of Bombay.
By and large, the name change is unlikely to make up a difference, and the airport will still commonly be referred to as Abu Dhabi Airport – similar to how Las Vegas changed its airport name from McCarran to Harry Reid in 2021.
IATA is more likely to issue a new airport code when the actual location of the airport has changed, but back in the 1940s, New York’s Idlewild Airport with the code IDL was reconstructed and renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport with the updated JFK code.
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.