Abu Dhabi’s new Midfield Terminal to become the new home for Etihad when complete


(Posted 18th July 2014)

Etihad, Abu Dhabi’s national airline, presently flying to Nairobi and expanding East Africa destinations to Entebbe in 2015, yesterday announced that they are aiming at the opening of their new terminal at Abu Dhabi’s international airport for the 17th of July 2017. While that in itself, other than being a nice match of numbers, is not really much of a news item, was the announcement that the airline will now use the new ‘Midfield Terminal’ with a capacity of 30 million passengers, exclusively for itself and the partner airlines raising heads in the aviation community.

Initially was the new terminal to be open to other airlines too, which fly to Abu Dhabi but this latest development confirms the ambitions of Etihad, to grow over the next three years, not just organically through the delivery of new aircraft and the opening of new routes, but also through added partnerships.

Etihad has developed their own way of generating growth, unlike another in the Gulf region going it entirely on their own while yet another felt joining an airline alliance may provide the answers they were seeking vis a vis sustained growth. Etihad’s model is one of investing in a partner airline, in some cases up to 49 percent, and then using code share arrangements and synergy effects like the pooling of maintenance, purchases and fleet alignments to generato savings for the partners and traffic growth via Abu Dhabi for themselves.

The new terminal, which is Abu Dhabi’s largest building project todate, will provide unrivalled facilities for Etihad and Etihad partner airlines’ passengers and when open give the airline a competitive platform on the ground in comparison with Qatar’s new Hamad International Airport or the new Dubai World Central Airport, aka Al Maktoum International, besides the new dedicated A380 terminal at Dubai International. With 65 gates, including several suitable for the handling of the airline’s Airbus A380, will the new terminal be the home for such airlines as Air Berlin, Air Lingus, Virgin Australia and India’s Jet Airways and very likely others too in which Etihad is planning to invest, Alitalia among them.

Talks have also been ongoing with KLM / Air France, discussing the option of Etihad taking an equity stake, which, although KLM / Air France are founder members of SkyTeam, would form a very formidable block of allegiances around Etihad, capable to rival the three main airline alliances.

Etihad flies presently to Nairobi, with Kenya Airways codesharing on the service and will in the first half of next year commence daily flights to Entebbe, or so it has been announced recently. No doubt will travelers be keen to see a new major airline come to Entebbe and stir up competition, with fares at least in the early months of Etihad’s arrival taking a tumble.

Etihad is also operating cargo flights between Abu Dhabi and Nairobi and recently added Entebbe and Dar es Salaam to their expanding freight network, showing a keen desire to open up Eastern Africa. Watch this space for breaking and regular aviation news from across the region.

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