Abu Dhabi Airports marked the 40th anniversary of the official opening of Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), celebrating its contributions to the remarkable ascension of Abu Dhabi as a centre for aviation, trade and tourism. The airport was first proposed in 1974, in response to the government’s plans to modernise the newly formed UAE. Construction of the airport began in 1979, and the new Abu Dhabi International Airport was officially opened on 2nd January 1982, featuring a circular satellite terminal with a single connection to a semi-circular terminal.
“Abu Dhabi International Airport has connected the world to Abu Dhabi for 40 years and fuelled the emirate’s emergence as a leading destination for tourism, trade and commerce. It was the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who had the foresight to build the airport, and thanks to his vision Abu Dhabi Airports has built a legacy forged by collaboration, innovation and service. It is a legacy that will continue to grow over the next 40 years, as it supports the ongoing social and economic development of Abu Dhabi and the UAE,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the terminal was expanded to cater to the increase in passenger numbers. Etihad became the national carrier and the home airline in 2003, which was a catalyst for rapid growth and paved the way for the opening of Terminal 2 in September 2005, a second runway in 2008 and Terminal 3 in January 2009, boosting the airport’s capacity to 12 million passengers per year.
The airport has also been home to a number of firsts. In 2014, AUH introduced the first United States border pre-clearance facilities in the Middle East to aid in the processing of passengers on direct flights for entry into the United States before they boarded their planes.
Also, AUH launched the Smart Travel System in 2016, the first of its kind in the region, to ease passenger processing and improve the customer experience. During the early onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, AUH was among the first to introduce contactless gates and touchless elevators to complement its wide array of health and safety measures.
“Abu Dhabi International has a proud history of providing world-class infrastructure and top-flight service, whilst serving as a catalyst for growth for 40 of our proud nation’s 50 years of achievement,” noted Shareef Al Hashmi, CEO, Abu Dhabi Airports. “As consumer confidence rebounds and traffic gradually recovers, we will continue to explore new technologies, products and ways of doing business that will drive improved sustainability and create industry-leading airport experiences. As proud as we are of our past achievements, we are equally excited about our bright future.”