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Abu Dhabi airport to complete major expansion in November

'Job gains by hotels, restaurants dropped to 30,000 after months of strong hiring'

By AFP - Sep 01,2023 - Last updated at Sep 01,2023

An Etihad Airways plane flies over the main control tower at the Yas Marina circuit ahead of the start of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix on November 27, 2016 (AFP file photo)

DUBAI — An airport terminal able to handle up to 45 million passengers a year will open in Abu Dhabi in November, state media said Thursday, accelerating competition in the crowded Gulf market.

Terminal A in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates capital, touted as one of the world's biggest, will be able to accommodate 11,000 travellers per hour and 79 aircraft at a time, according to WAM news agency.

The new facility, also known as Midfield Terminal Building, "is scheduled to begin operations in early November 2023", WAM said, as the UAE anticipates a surge in arrivals for the United Nations' COP28 climate talks in Dubai in November and December.

The terminal is opening at a time when neighbouring Saudi Arabia is rapidly expanding its airport capacity after announcing a giant new hub in Riyadh which will take up to 120 million travellers by 2030 and 185 million by 2050.

Abu Dhabi's 10 million passengers in the first half of this year pales against the traffic in next-door emirate Dubai, a major aviation hub that welcomed 41.6 million over the same period.

Qatar, another popular transit stop in the wealthy region, completed a multi-billion dollar expansion before last year's football World Cup and Saudi Arabia's Jeddah, near Mecca, is growing to 70-80 million capacity by 2035.

"Covering 742,000 square meters of built-up area, Terminal A is among the largest airport terminals in the world," WAM said.

In 2012, Abu Dhabi's state-owned airport operator signed a 10.8 billion dirham ($2.94 billion) contract with a consortium of firms to build the new terminal.

It will be the new home of Etihad Airways, the UAE's national carrier.

In March, months after announcing Riyadh's new airport, Saudi Arabia unveiled new airline Riyadh Air and placed an order for 78 Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets.

The Gulf powers, many buoyed by last year's spike in oil prices, are hurrying to diversify their hydrocarbon-reliant economies before a predicted drop in demand.

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