NOW OPEN: Abu Dhabi Terminal A unveiled

By Luke Barras-hill |

Abu Dhabi Airport’s new Terminal A opened to passengers today (1 November 2023).

[UPDATED] Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH) has today (1 November 2023) officially raised the curtain on its eagerly anticipated 742,000sq m Terminal A.

Described as “Your new gateway to Abu Dhabi”, the UAE capital’s international hub celebrated the milestone achievement with a video offering an exciting glimpse inside the new facility, released via its official channel on social media platform X.

Just last week, TRBusiness reported how shops and restaurants were preparing to welcome their first wave of customers through the doors.

Tenants Lagardère Travel Retail and Aer Rianta International (ARI) shared comments with TRBusiness ahead of the grand opening.

“The experience will be great and the local offer will be exceptional as well – we’ve worked on that,” Lagardère Travel Retail Chairman and CEO Dag Rasmussen told this publication in an exclusive interview.

“The architecture is fantastic with this huge terminal; it is something that will make the difference. I think they [travellers] will have the best experience in the region.”

Anthony Kenny, Chief Commercial Officer and Deputy CEO at ARI, said: “We’re ready to go; stock is coming into the warehouse, vendor furniture has been installed and it looks spectacular. Employee training programmes are going on… we’re in good shape and will be ready to hit the ground running.”


Airlines to phase in operations

As reported, former Beirut Duty Free General Manager Adrian Bradshaw is leading Aer Rianta International Middle East (ARIME) joint venture TRSS, which will run the perfume, cosmetics, jewellery and sunglasses categories at the new terminal.

Etihad Airways will make its ceremonial flight on 31 October as Abu Dhabi Airports readies its facilities and services in anticipation of receiving the terminal’s maiden passengers on 1 November.

Lagardère Capital, the joint venture comprising Abu Dhabi Capital Group and Lagardère Travel Retail, will handle liquor, tobacco, confectionery, and fine food concessions.

The company will operate perfumes and cosmetics outside of the main international departure lounge with a retail footprint spanning 13 points of sale over 3,400sq m.

Dag Rasmussen, Chairman and CEO, Lagardere Travel Retail.

The travel retailer is also involved in handling F&B concessions, along with HMSHost International.

Between them, the companies will manage 163 retail and F&B concepts for passengers.

ARI and Lagardère Capital first secured the rights to operate the DF&TR business at the airport in 2015.

Then, a scheduled completion was targeted for 2017 but the project has been beset by years of delays.

State-owned landlord Abu Dhabi Airports Company announced in the summer that the new Terminal A would finally open this November.

Known as the Midfield Terminal Building during the construction phase, the building is designed to handle up to 45 million passengers per year.

Abu Dhabi Airports Company confirmed this week that a transition period will commence for all airlines following the new terminal’s opening on 1 November.

All terminals at the airport (1, 2 & 3 and A) will operate simultaneously.

From 15 November, all airlines will operate exclusively from Terminal A.

Etihad Airways’ ceremonial flight is due on 31 October, as Abu Dhabi Airports readies the new terminal’s facilities and services in anticipation of receiving its first passengers.

Public information campaign

Anthony Kenny, CCO and Deputy CEO, Aer Rianta International.

As part of the final preparations, the landlord has launched a print, digital and broadcast awareness campaign offering information to visitors and passengers.

This advises that guests regularly check the airport’s its website for passengers flying from Abu Dhabi International Airport between 1-14 November.

To ease navigation to and from the new terminal, its location has recently been added to popular way-finding applications such as Google Maps and Waze.

Frank McCrorie, Chief Operating Officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, added: “We look forward to welcoming passengers to the state-of-the-art Terminal A, when it opens to the public.

“The new terminal will bring a major increase in capacity and access to world-class facilities for both passengers and airlines.

“We strongly suggest that passengers flying from November 1st to 14th check the latest flight information on the Abu Dhabi International Airport website, or with their airline.”

Third quarter (July-September) results for Abu Dhabi International Airport released Friday (27 October) reveals a passenger traffic hike of +29.3% compared to the same period last year to total 5,951,025 passengers.

Elena Sorlini, Managing Director and Interim CEO, Abu Dhabi Airports, said: “We are happy to report passenger figures that continue to show double-digit growth for both passengers and movements.

“We are attracting major international airlines to Abu Dhabi, with Air France and SunExpress all scheduled to start this IATA winter season, and we further welcome British Airways’ recent announcement to return to Abu Dhabi in April 2024. Terminal A brings a host of new capabilities and facilities, and will be key to airline and, consequently, passenger growth.”

Watch out for the TRBusiness November/December edition, available soon, for a report on the new Terminal A.  

Lead image source: Abu Dhabi Airports Company.

READ MORE: Abu Dhabi International Airport’s half-year traffic soars 67%

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