Photos: building Abu Dhabi Airport's new Midfield Terminal

By Chris C., May 14 2015
Photos: building Abu Dhabi Airport's new Midfield Terminal

If you've flown through Abu Dhabi lately with Virgin Australia or Etihad, you may have spotted the airport's Midfield Terminal Building starting to take shape.

Taking the reins as Etihad's future home when it opens in Q3 2017, the new terminal will handle up to 30 million passengers each year, 19,200 checked bags per hour and offer minimum connection times of just 45 minutes.

But building a monstrous terminal from scratch is no easy task, as Australian Business Traveller witnessed on a behind-the-scenes tarmac tour of the airport's construction site.

Situated between two active runways at an otherwise-functioning international airport, safety is at the front of everybody's minds – whether you're operating a small crane...

... or driving workers and journalists from place to place on the bus.

Incredibly, the workers have already achieved over 65 million man-hours on the project without a single lost-time injury – that's the equivalent of one full-time Aussie employee working 40 hours a week, 48 weeks a year, for almost 34,000 years without incident (if we could live that long!).

With the customary safety briefing out of the way, we go for a ride to check-out the future terminal itself.

Once opened to the public, passengers will arrive by car on elevated roadways...

... before proceeding to one of 156 check-in desks or 48 self-check kiosks, and then into one of eight airline lounges.

Travellers stuck down the back without lounge access can grab a bite to eat or indulge in a little duty-free shopping, with 28,000 square metres of the terminal dedicated to retail stores and food and beverage outlets.

Designed in an 'X' shape, a network of 46 travellators will whisk passengers from one pier to the next.

Check-in and immigration formalities take place in the centre of the four piers – in the middle of the 'X', if you will – after which it takes roughly 15 minutes to walk to the furthest gate if you're avoiding the travellator.

Those travellators become a necessity for connecting passengers, as a flight arriving at the far end of one pier with an onward flight at the opposite end of the terminal naturally means a walking time of up to 30 minutes from gate to gate.

But before any travellers can use the airport, they'll need somewhere for the aircraft to park. Some of the aerobridge stands are beginning to take shape...

... while others aren't yet connected to the terminal.

All up, Midfield will house 65 aerobridge gates – 14 of which will be A380-capable – plus a further 14 remote stands for use during peak times.

The terminal's central location also slashes the time spent taxiing from the gate to the runway, with a just-arrived Egyptair flight a stone's throw from the construction site.

The existing and iconic air traffic control tower will remain, as will the current terminal – allowing the airport to handle a whopping 50 million passengers each and every year.

There's still plenty of work to be done at Midfield over the next 2.5 years, to take the terminal from this...

... to the largest building in Abu Dhabi and an airport ready for the growing number of passengers visiting and connecting through the Emirate.

Curious to see more? Watch this four-minute video:

Stay behind the scenes:

Chris Chamberlin was a guest of Etihad and Abu Dhabi Airports.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 May 2013

Total posts 45

Looks amazing.

I am curious though whehter the airport will utilise astroturf (or equivalent) to make the green 'lawn' parts of the last image (#19) come to life?  I found the whole approach rather bleak during my last trip to AUH... some astroturf wouldn't go awry in livening things up!

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 213

Has Virgin Australia have international flights to Abu Dhabi?, don't think so

Quote: If you've flown through Abu Dhabi lately with Virgin Australia or Etihad

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2453

Virgin Australia flies from Sydney to Abu Dhabi three times per week (and then from Abu Dhabi to Kuala Lumpur and back on behalf of Etihad).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 May 2012

Total posts 580

When were these shots taken?  It doesn't look too different from when a passed through last July, though admittedly I only saw the site from the tarmac while taxiing to the runway next to the new terminal.

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 442

AUH seems to have been under construction for as long as I can remember!

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

01 Feb 2015

Total posts 112

Love it!  Etihad fails to impress me recently and with their hub building this beauty it can only go up from there!

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

19 Apr 2014

Total posts 47

I really hope they get something like a people mover underground.

It would be torture to try and walk to another gate with that kind of terminal configuration.

QFF Gold QC gold

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 56

That's a great video!


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 953

Airline travel in 2018 will be very interesting with the amount of money being pumped into the industry, should have some great pricing trying to put bums on seats.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 377

It's nice, but it's not Changi and once terminal 4 is complete and 5 is built, it will still remain the best airport.


22 Mar 2015

Total posts 13

Looks great.. I wonder how many indentured slaves will die building this?

Will be a great business class experience, bought on the back of unpaid and imprisoned labour.  Can't wait....

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