Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) registered a 31 per cent rise in passenger traffic and 15 per cent increase in aircraft movement last year, making it one of the fastest growing airports in the region.
Continuing the year’s growth, December traffic results released on Saturday by Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac) showed a 40.4 per cent uptrend in total passengers and a 19.9 per cent rise in aircraft movements compared to December 2006. “The strong traffic seen during 2007 is a direct result of Abu Dhabi’s growing prominence as an attractive tourist and business destination,” Khalifa Al Mazrouei, chairman and managing director of Adac, said in a statement.
Adac owns and operates the Abu Dhabi and Al Ain international airports.
AUH handled 730,404 passengers in December 2007 compared to 520,133 in December 2006. The number of aircraft movements increased from 6,517 in December 2006 to 7,811 in December 2007. For the whole of 2007, the number of total passengers increased to a record 6.926 million and aircraft movements to 86,767, Adac said in the statement.
Cargo volume continued its strong performance and increased to 28,184 tonnes in December 2007 from 26,905 tonnes in December 2006, a growth of five per cent. For the full year, cargo volumes increased by 22 per cent from 257,622 tonnes to 315,317 tonnes.
“A substantial factor in Abu Dhabi airport’s strong growth has been the rapid expansion of its home-based airline, Etihad Airways,” the statement said.
In 2007, the carrier added nine destinations and increased the number of average weekly services from 463 in January to 719 per week in December. Growth was also driven by a 10 per cent increase in the number of other airlines operating at the airport, with the commencement of services by Oman Air, Ethiopian Airlines and Sama, it said.
“It is very pleasing to see the continued expansion of our largest customer, Etihad Airways, and the commencement of so many airlines taking advantage of the quick and efficient services of the airport and the underlying economic growth of Abu Dhabi,” Al Mazrouei said.
The airport’s services won recognition from the aviation industry in the form of awards such as “the Best Airport in the Middle East and Africa in terms of service quality, courtesy and customer service” by the Airports Council International, “provider of the Best Baggage Delivery Service in the World” by Skytrax and the Best Station award by SriLankan airline.
The airport is looking at expansion this year that includes a third terminal to handle five million passengers. This will double AUH’s capacity to 12m passengers. Featuring eight gates, including two that are A380 compatible, the new terminal will meet the demand of Etihad Airways and foreign airlines until the Midfield Terminal Complex is ready a couple of years later, the statement said. Adac is expanding its existing satellite area to create more room for additional airport services and more seating space. Some major internationally renowned catering outlets, such as McDonald’s and Starbucks, will soon be added, the statement said.
The new Yas Lounge has been built at Terminal 1, specifically catering to economy-class travellers who stop over at AUH for more than six hours before joining their next flight.
“Adac will continue to deliver on its commitment to the government and the people of Abu Dhabi to provide world-class customer service. Our plans for the future will deliver best in class facilities to ensure this airport is a fitting gateway for a world-class city and the emirate as a whole,” Al Mazrouei said.
Adac is wholly owned by the Abu Dhabi Government. It was incorporated on March 4, 2006, to spearhead the development of the emirate’s aviation infrastructure. In September 2006, it officially took over the operation and management of the Abu Dhabi and Al Ain international airports.
Abu Dhabi airport sees traffic soar