(Impression of the new Midfield Terminal, courtesy of Abu Dhabi Airport Company)
Etihad, Abu Dhabis national airline, will be commencing flights to Nairobi in April, as was earlier on reported here. Now news have emerged through aviation sources in the Gulf region, that Abu Dhabis government has responded to demands to improve the facilities at the international airport to more effectively compete with Etihads main rivals Emirates and Qatar Airways.
In neighbouring Dubai it is not only the brand new Dubai World Central, or in short DWC which is being built in Jebel Ali to make room for further expansion of both passenger and cargo traffic in coming years, but at the present international airport DXB a dedicated A380 terminal is in the final stages of construction, giving Emirates, the worlds largest A 380 operator, a competitive advantage in providing short ways for connecting passengers in state of the art comfort.
In Qatar, the new international airport is due to open in less than a years time to the relief of not only the passengers using the worlds only 5 star airline but for Qatar Airways itself. Hampered in its expansion drive through crowded airport facilities and the resulting less than 5 star ground handling at the present airport, the opening of the new facility cannot come soon enough according to a reliable source at QR who said on condition of anonymity: As a 5 star airline and airline of the year 2011 we are not only measured by our inflight service but also by what our handling is like for connecting passengers. Our fleet is expanding and we are adding new destinations, so we have more and more passengers changing planes in Doha. The new airport will radically alter the handling on the ground with new facilities and we can guarantee 5 star service to all our connecting passengers.
Etihad, fast catching up with the Gulfs two leading airlines, clearly saw this competitive threat on the horizon and prevailed upon the Abu Dhabi Airport Company and its owners, the government of Abu Dhabi, to respond in kind to these developments in their immediate neighbourhood, and the lobbying paid off now.
(Impression of the new Midfield Terminal, courtesy by Abu Dhabi Airport Company)
A brand new Midfield Terminal Complex has been approved at an estimated cost of nearly 7 billion US Dollars at current prices, and the new facility is due to come on line by 2017, i.e. in 5 years from now, at which stage Etihad and her two current partner airlines Air Berlin and Air Seychelles will be able to benefit from a state of the art new terminal. Etihads own expansion drive with new aircraft joining the fleet and new destinations being rolled out, combined with their strategy to buy into suitable and compatible partner airlines they hold 40 percent in Air Seychelles and a near 30 percent stake in Germanys Air Berlin, which has already shifted their entire Gulf operation from Dubai International to Abu Dhabi as a result of the partnership will see passenger numbers rise by very large margins in coming years to at least 20 million per annum, before the new terminal, located between the two present runways, will become operational and create more space for future growth.
The new terminal will cover as much as 700.000 square metres in size and will reach up to 52 metres height but more important has been designed and will be built in close cooperation with MASDAR, which is overseeing the new zero carbon city which is being built near the airport to incorporate the latest technologies in energy savings and reduced carbon emissions.
With Etihad coming to East Africa soon, travelers from our region will be able to see work progress on the new terminal as they land or take off from Abu Dhabi and see this exciting new project evolve every time they travel on Etihad. Watch this space for aviation news from Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean region, and stories closely related to it.