Abu Dhabi International Airport handled 22.3 million passengers in 2018 and is investing to facilitate future growth, with its $3 billion Midfield Terminal Building almost complete.
Leading Abu Dhabi Airports’ continued development is Bryan Thompson, who delivered a special presentation on the development of the Midfield Terminal Building during FTE-APEX Asia EXPO 2019, which took place on 12-13 November in Singapore. Thompson took the helm as CEO in August 2018 and his 20-year airports career includes roles at Dubai Airports, Australia Pacific Airports Corporation, Melbourne Airport, GVK (Mumbai International Airport), and Airports Company South Africa.
“We are on track for a great year,” he comments. “Obviously, as a hub airport for Etihad, we have seen changes with the airline’s restructuring and review of its priorities, but that restructuring is really bearing fruit. Working load factors at Etihad are now among the highest in the region – they are flying full aircraft, which is great for sustainability and a sure sign of how strong Etihad’s reputation is with flyers.”
The new terminal is designed to handle over 8,500 people per hour and will increase the airport’s capacity by up to 45 million passengers per year. To deliver this throughput, the facility will include 65 contact and 14 remote stands, 49 gates, 106 boarding bridges, 154 check-in counters, 44 self-check-in counters, and 10 baggage reclaims, with the baggage handling system processing almost 500,000 bags daily.
Harnessing big data and artificial intelligence
Technology is vitally important for Abu Dhabi International Airport, with a digital transformation taking place to streamline the business and make it more efficient.
“One thing I am very excited about is how we are harnessing big data and artificial intelligence (AI) to relieve anxious passengers on tight connecting flights,” says Thompson. “Through AI, the approaching aircraft will be allocated by air traffic control to ensure the shortest possible physical journey between planes for transiting passengers.”
The airport is also trialling autonomous wheelchairs in partnership with Etihad that will allow passengers with restricted mobility to navigate more easily through the terminals.
“With technology, as with the overall design, we have been careful to consider the human element in every aspect of the airport concept,” Thompson explains. “Just as we don’t want travellers to feel dwarfed by the airport, we don’t want them to feel that technology has pushed out the essential human touches that are needed to feel welcome and reassured.”