Abu Dhabi Airport operations to transition to Terminal A effective November 1, 2023

Abu Dhabi has been long working on creating an airport hub (since 2012) that could match or compete with sister emirate Dubai’s aviation powerhouse. This ambition was in the making when Etihad was going to be a carrier with global ambitions. However, it recalibrated that ambition and scaled it down over time. Now, the Midfield Terminal is ready after much dragging on, and it will be put into action tomorrow, renamed Terminal A. If you like Tom Cruise movies, you would have seen this terminal in Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1, released earlier this year.

Abu Dhabi to transition operations to Terminal A on November 1

From November 1, Abu Dhabi International Airport Terminal A will begin operations, increasing passenger capacity in Abu Dhabi. Etihad’s ceremonial flight will occur on October 31 before opening to the public on November 1.

a building with a curved roof

Airlines will transition into Terminal A in 3 phases over a period of 2 weeks. After Etihad’s ceremonial flight on October 31, here is how the transition will proceed:

  • Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and 15 other international airlines will fly from the new Terminal on November 1. Indian Carriers such as IndiGo, Air India, Air India Express and Vistara will all move as a part of the first batch of airlines transitioning.
  • From November 9, Etihad Airways will operate 16 daily flights before completing their transition to their new home on November 14, together with Air Arabia Abu Dhabi and 10 other airlines.
  • From November 14, all 28 airlines will be operational from Terminal A.

a group of airline logos

In preparation for the opening in November, operational readiness trials concluded on October 17. The trials involved more than 11,000 volunteers selected from the Abu Dhabi community.  These included Abu Dhabi Airport’s staff members, students, families and stakeholders from Abu Dhabi’s aviation community.

On this occasion, Elena Sorlini, Managing Director and Interim CEO at Abu Dhabi Airports, said:

With final preparations almost complete, I am proud to say we are ready to open Terminal A to the public on November 1st. We will see a rapid increase in the number of flights operating from Terminal A as of November 1st to the 14th, and I’m excited by the new opportunities and experiences which the iconic facility will bring to both airlines and passengers. Terminal A will drive the growth of the aviation sector in Abu Dhabi and play an instrumental role in welcoming more businesses and tourists to the emirate for decades to come.

Abu Dhabi’s Terminal A promises a shopping experience.

When fully operational, Terminal A will be a shopper’s paradise covering 35,000  with 163 retail concessionaires and food & beverage, offering passengers a wide variety of shopping and dining opportunities to enjoy. From Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Ferragamo to the world’s first Muji airport store, Terminal A is a shopping destination designed to amplify a passenger’s travel experience, the Abu Dhabi Airports’ Press Release states.

a close-up of a infographic

When it comes to food and beverage, there is something to accommodate all palates. Jones The Grocer, Taste of India, Starbucks and the Camden Food Co. are just some brands calling Terminal A their new home. Also, catering to little palates, young travellers can embark on a culinary adventure amidst their favourite McDonalds or TGI Fridays restaurant as they enjoy its playful décor.

Additionally, Todd English opened his first airport restaurant, providing diners with a wide selection of cuisines worldwide. For relaxation and rejuvenation before flying, there are two health and beauty spas, a high-quality 138-bedroom hotel, and a modern open-air lounge offering renowned Arabic hospitality.

Abu Dhabi Terminal A to focus on the passenger experience.

Terminal A will prioritise the passenger experience, facilitating a streamlined service from kerb-to-gate. It will also be the first in the world to include all nine biometric airport touchpoints. In the first phase, biometric solutions will be installed in key areas, such as self-service bag drops, immigration eGates and boarding gates. It will use facial recognition technology to screen passengers and minimise wait times when fully operational.

a diagram of a passenger biometric touch points

Combined with other high-tech facilities, including an advanced baggage handling system capable of processing up to 19,200 bags per hour, Terminal A is poised to deliver a seamless passenger journey to travellers. Increasing to 65 parking stands connecting aircraft with allocated boarding gates, this allows for less congestion, a relaxed boarding experience and a smoother onward journey.

The X-shaped building design helps improve operational efficiency and passenger flow, featuring four themed piers inspired by Abu Dhabi’s desert, sea, city and oasis natural landscapes. It also features the Sana Al Nour, one of the largest indoor public art features in the Middle East, standing at 22 metres tall and 17 metres wide.

Terminal A will reduce water consumption by 45%, whilst more than 7,500 solar panels power a 3MW plant that currently saves 5,300 tons of carbon dioxide annually. Meanwhile, a state-of-the-art Advanced Surface Movement Control System, the first of its kind in the Middle East, will allow planes to land quickly and safely during low-visibility weather conditions.

Terminal A is one of the largest airport terminals in the world. The Terminal will double the current airport capacity, which can accommodate up to 45 million passengers per year. At triple the size of the previous Terminal, and with flights to 117 destinations worldwide, it will increase both the frequency and reach of flights to and from Abu Dhabi.


Abu Dhabi Airport’s new Terminal A will go live on November 1, 2023. On the first day, all the Indian airlines operating to Abu Dhabi will transition to Abu Dhabi Terminal A, with Etihad moving over later in the month. Plan accordingly if you are due to fly to or from Abu Dhabi.

What do you anticipate seeing at Abu Dhabi Terminal A when it goes live?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Much needed change for Etihad. The current terminal is poor in terms of facilities, lounge capacities and shopping options.

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