ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi International Airport today re-opened its newly renovated southern runway as part of its expansion plans in preparation for the iconic Midfield Terminal Complex, MTC, becoming operational in 2017.
This major milestone was marked with an A380 take-off and landing, and officially deemed operational by Ali Majed Al Mansoori, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports, and the company’s Board of Directors, in the presence of local dignitaries and officials from the General Civil Aviation Authority, the Department of Transport Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways, the Department of Customs, and the Ports and Airports Security department.
The re-opening of the southern runway comes ahead of the much-awaited scheduled flights of Etihad Airways’ Airbus A380 and Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft, which were unveiled at Abu Dhabi International Airport last week.
The upgrade of the southern runway included its refurbishment and widening, elevating it to Code “F” standard, and was the key component of Abu Dhabi Airports’ Southern Airfield Programme. Code “F” status will enable the southern runway to accommodate every type of commercial aircraft in the world, including the largest, the Airbus A380.
At today’s event, the General Civil Aviation Authority, GCAA, of the UAE formally handed over the southern runway operational certification to Abu Dhabi Airports. As a result, the southern runway can now function independently of the parallel northern runway. Together, both runways will reach a total combined capacity in excess of 500,000 aircraft movements annually, making Abu Dhabi International Airport one of the largest two-runway operations in the world.
In addition to the southern runway renovation, the Southern Airfield Programme included the construction of an airside road tunnel running underneath the southern runway. The tunnel runs more than 1.2 kilometres, is 40 metres wide, and will enable full connectivity between the MTC and the existing Terminals 1 and 3. An additional 21 wide body aircraft stands were also constructed along the apron to accommodate increased aircraft movement. The total cost of the Southern Airfield Programme was approximately AED830 million, and will facilitate the delivery of world class aviation infrastructure for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The newly upgraded runway will allow Abu Dhabi International Airport to handle more passenger and freight aircraft and, once the MTC is complete, will raise capacity to above 45 million passengers per annum. This capacity uplift will be needed to accommodate Etihad Airways’ current and future fleet expansion programme, as the airport continues to be a key regional hub for connectivity and tourism for the capital of the UAE, supporting the achievement of Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.
Ali Majed Al Mansoori said, “I am proud to announce the successful delivery of the southern runway renovation project, a major milestone in the development of Abu Dhabi International Airport. Everybody involved in this project must be congratulated for their commitment and effort to ensure that such a vital piece of infrastructure was delivered on time and on budget a massive achievement. In particular, I would like to thank the General Civil Aviation Authority for their continued and wholehearted support in helping to deliver this programme.
“Today’s event is important not just for Abu Dhabi Airports but also for Abu Dhabi as a whole, as the Emirate continues to stamp its mark on the world as a major transportation hub and an attractive destination for both tourists and businesses. Abu Dhabi Airports has a huge role to play in this respect and today’s event takes us closer towards realising our vision of becoming the world’s leading airports group.” Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director-General of UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, said, “This is an historic day in Abu Dhabi’s incredible ascendency and I would like to thank and congratulate the Chairman and Abu Dhabi Airports on their continued efforts in developing Abu Dhabi’s aviation infrastructure and industry. The stunning and fast growth of the aviation sector has positively impacted many industries in the emirate including the business sector, tourism, foreign trade, and other mainstays of the national economy.”