Etihad codeshares help Abu Dhabi airport passenger numbers soar

Passenger numbers at Abu Dhabi International Airport surged by an annualised 14.1 per cent last month on the back of Etihad Airways’ continuing expansion.

More than 2.15 million passengers passed through the airport in January compared with 1.88 million in January 2015.

“The continuing expansion of Etihad Airways’ operations continues to drive up the number of passengers travelling to and from Abu Dhabi,” said Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operations officer at Abu Dhabi Airports.

Mr Al Haddabi added that Etihad’s equity partners had a “significant impact”.

Passenger traffic from Italy surged by 79.2 per cent in January over the same month last year, while traffic from Australia also grew by 37.7 per cent during the same period. The growth in passenger traffic from the two countries was supported by Etihad’s equity investment in Alitalia and Virgin Australia, as the Italian and Australian carriers fly passengers on to further destinations via Abu Dhabi.

This month, Etihad said that annual passenger traffic between Abu Dhabi and India jumped 63 per cent last year, helped by its partnership with Jet Airways, in which it owns a 24 per cent stake.

As part of its next phase of expansion, Abu Dhabi Airports is preparing for the opening of Midfield Terminal by the end of next year, after receiving 23 million passengers in 2015.

The Midfield Terminal project, which began in September 2012, is part of Abu Dhabi’s broader plans to increase tourist traffic under the capital’s 2030 strategy to diversify the economy. By the end of 2015, about 70 per cent of the Midfield Terminal was already completed, airport officials said last month.

Meanwhile, passenger traffic grew by 9 per cent year-on-year in 2015 at Al Bateen Executive Airport. Passenger numbers topped 7,600 passengers in each of the final four months of 2015, with November marking the highest figures at 9,454.

Last month, Mr Al Haddabi told The National that Al Bateen airport expects cheaper oil to give the private jet sector a boost. While the plunge in oil prices has taken its toll on regional economies, private jet operators hope to benefit from improved margins.

“It will help the operators of private jets to reduce their fuel costs, which is around 30 per cent to 33 per cent of their operating costs,” Mr Al Haddabi said.

Next month, the airport will host the Abu Dhabi Air Expo and the Middle East Aviation Car­eers Conference as part of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Aviation and Aerospace Week.

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