Abu Dhabi International Airport is all set to turn over a new leaf and take the airport experience to a whole new level for arriving, departing and transit travelers! Its much-anticipated Midfield terminal, now called Terminal A, built with ultra-modern amenities for $3 billion is going to be inaugurated on 1 November 2023.
Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national airline, will operate a ceremonial flight from the new terminal on 31 October, and AUH Airport Terminal A will open its doors to travelers a day later. Sprawling across a whopping 742,000 sqm, the state-of-the-art terminal can serve up to 45 million annual passengers – nearly triple the airport’s current capacity. It can handle 11,000 travelers every hour and 79 aircraft at any time. A new cargo facility at Terminal A is designed to handle 2.5 million tons of cargo by 2025.
Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A, while supporting Etihad Airways’ future expansion plans, is expected to simultaneously strengthen the airport’s position as a global hub for travel and trade. This multibillion dollar airport expansion program may thus provide a shot in the arm for Abu Dhabi’s economic growth in line with its 2030 vision for economic diversification in a stable and sustainable manner.
Etihad Airways’ shifting of operations to Terminal A
AUH Airport’s Terminal A will serve as the new home of Etihad Airways. Though the new terminal will begin operations starting 1 November 2023, international passengers of Etihad flights to India from USA will get to experience Abu Dhabi’s brand new Terminal A after 9 November. Etihad Airways will be shifting its operations, domestic and international, to the Terminal A between 9 and 14 November.
The US-bound passengers from India, who are eligible for US customs pre-clearance at Abu Dhabi Airport, should have minimum 3 hours of connection time/layover in their itinerary if their transit is scheduled on or after 9 November. The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility won’t be shifted to the new Terminal A from Terminal 3 anytime soon.
If your itinerary with Etihad Airways has connection to the US from Terminal A, you should head to Terminal 3 for US customs pre-clearance two hours before your connecting flight. A shuttle bus from Gate F will transfer you to and from Terminal 3. Gate F closes 75 minutes before your flight departure.
“It is recommended that you contact Etihad Airways and get the terminal-related information for your seamless transit at Abu Dhabi Airport if you are traveling to USA on or after 9 November,” said the chief travel economist of IndianEagle.com, a leading air-ticketing partner of Indians.
The phase-wise transition to happen over a period of two weeks will see a total of 28 airlines relocating to Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A. On the first day of its operation, the terminal will serve 16 international airlines including Wizz Air. Etihad and 11 more airlines will move to Terminal A in the second week, and by November 14, the new terminal will entirely take over flight operations at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A: Design, Architecture, Technology
AUH Airport’s Midfield terminal has sustainable, modern design and climate responsive architecture featuring natural light harvesting (transparent exteriors let in maximum natural light during the day), passive shading, advanced heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, and dry climate landscaping. Terminal A is estimated to cut 5300 tons of carbon emissions per year.
Terminal A is laid out in X-shape to allow more space for aircraft parking, minimize walking distance, and facilitate passenger flow. The average walking time from kerb to gate is 12 minutes and the minimum transfer time is roughly 45 minutes. A huge hall leads travelers to the heart of the terminal building – an expansive space accommodating lounges, shops, an indoor garden and a hotel.
One of the architectural highlights of the terminal is Sana Al Nour, the largest indoor public art in the Middle East. The massive centerpiece of the terminal elevating the aesthetics is more functional than decorative. The 22m tall and 17m wide structure forms a part of the air recirculation system and also helps in daylight deflection, spreading natural light throughout the terminal.
Another captivating feature of the terminal building is its wavy roof – a fascinating similarity to the upcoming Noida International Airport in India although the geographical/cultural context lends a unique significance to the same wavy pattern. While the undulating roof of Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A reflects the rolling sand dunes of the region, it resembles the flowing Ganga River in the terminal design of Noida Airport.
Terminal A is said to be the world’s first airport to adopt biometric technology for digitizing the nine touch points including check-in desks, self-service baggage drop, immigration and boarding gates. This interconnected biometric system eliminates wait times and ensures a smooth digitized end-to-end journey. The terminal has the most advanced baggage handling system capable of processing nearly 19,200 bags every hour.
If your itinerary has a long layover, you can choose to relax at the airport hotel or experience various in-terminal facilities if not opting for Abu Dhabi stopover programs. Terminal A has an open-air lounge with luxurious amenities to treat you to the best of Arabic hospitality in a sophisticated setting. The world’s first Muji airport store and American celebrity chef Todd English’s first airport restaurant are among the surprises for international travelers.