Abu Dhabi International Airport

Track Abu Dhabi International Airport’s milestone achievements
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Development at a Glance

This timeline tracks some of the significant developments that contributed towards making our airport the thriving travel hub it is today.

Year Development


Early 'flying boats' operated by the British Royal Air Force use the sheltered coastal waters offshore from what is now the city of Abu Dhabi as their base


Abu Dhabi’s first airport, located in Abu Dhabi city, is opened under the name Al Bateen Airport


The airport is moved to its present location, 32km (20 miles) south east of the city, positioned at latitude 24º 41 (N), longitude 54º 67 (E)

Mid 1990’s

The terminal building is enlarged to accommodate mounting passenger traffic


May: The Supervision Committee for the Expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport (SCADIA) is established to spearhead an ambitious redevelopment programme


August: Renovations and expansion works on Terminal 1 are completed.
September: The new Terminal 2 is inaugurated


March: Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) is incorporated by Emiri Decree to lead the development of the Emirate's aviation industry
July: A contract for the design of a new air traffic control tower is signed
August: London-based architectural firm KPF is commissioned to lead the design of the new Midfield Terminal Complex
September: A contract is signed, initiating the design of Terminal 3
September: ADAC officially assumes control of the Abu Dhabi and Al Ain airports


July : Advanced aviation security measures are implemented at Terminal 2.
December: ADAC awards an in-flight catering contract to LSG Sky Chefs.


March : SSP is appointed the exclusive services provider across all food and beverage outlets in Terminal 3
May: Free WiFi Internet access is provided to passengers in all airport terminals
July: Abu Dhabi International Airport is among the first airports in the world to receive Service Quality Assured certification from Airports Council International (ACI)
September: The airport is fully certified by the General Civil Aviation Authority
October: A second runway is opened to cater to increased traffic
December: ADAC takes over the management of Sir Bani Yas Island
December: Abu Dhabi International Airport passenger numbers exceed 9 million


January : Abu Dhabi International Airport receives the Middle East's first regulatory approval for enhanced low visibility operations (classification CAT III)
January: The much anticipated world-class Terminal 3 is opened
August: Self Check-in facilities are introduced in the departures halls


June :  Abu Dhabi International Airport becomes the first major airport in Middle East to fully implement Barcode Boarding Pass technology
July: SITA (CUPPS) passenger processing systems are implemented
August: The capital’s airport welcomes its first one million passengers within a calendar month
December: Abu Dhabi International Airport welcomes  a record ten million passengers within less than a year


January : ADAC announces the release of a tender for the new Midfield Terminal Complex
March: Abu Dhabi International Airport receives the coveted 2010 Skytrax Staff Service Excellence Award in recognition of its customer facing staff
April: The launch of an Aviation Navigation Services operation from the new Air Traffic Control Complex
June: Abu Dhabi International Airport named ‘Best Airport in Middle East’ at Business Destinations Travel Awards
July: Launch of new personalized airport website
October: Launch of new remote self service check-in facilities
November: Completion of Terminal 1 refurbishment
December:  IATA Awards Abu Dhabi International Airport for Fast Travel


January: Ground breaking of Premier Inn hotel at Abu Dhabi International Airport
February: Launch of airport mobile website
April:Abu Dhabi International Airport named Best Airport in the Middle East by World Airport Awards
May: Abu Dhabi International Airport’s ‘Al Dhabi’ Lounge was named a highly commended lounge at the prestigious Priority Pass Lounge of the Year 2012 award.
June: Abu Dhabi International Airport introduces new self-service check-in kiosk at the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island Hotel, the only kiosk of its kind on Yas Island. 
July: Within less than a year since its launch, Abu Dhabi International Airport’s new website (www.abudhabiairport.ae) has received global attention, which is acknowledged with multiple awards in 2012.
September: Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) has won two prestigious ‘Stevie’ awards from the 9th International Business Awards (IBA). The Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) mobile website won the Gold Stevie Award trophy, one of the Stevie Awards’ most coveted prizes, for the ‘Best Mobile Site’. In addition, the airport’s official website won the Silver Stevie award for ‘Best Overall Web Design’. Winners were determined through two months of preliminary judging and two weeks of final judging.
September: Rotana Jet launches double daily services to Fujairah, Al Ain and Sharjah from Abu Dhabi International Airport.
October: Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) welcomes the inaugural arrival of a RAK Airways flight at Abu Dhabi International Airport, marking the first domestic flight operated by the airline, where the airline has launched four direct flights a week between the Capital’s Airport (AUH) and Ras Al Khaimah Airport (RKT). 
November: Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) received the highest accolade from the global duty free industry by winning the Frontier Award for Best Airport Operator of the Year 2012. 
December: Alitalia, Italy’s flag carrier has begun direct services from Rome to Abu Dhabi with a celebratory flight to the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) arriving last night. The Airport also witnesses the start of operation of Garuda Indonesia connecting Abu Dhabi to Jakarta in Indonesia and Amsterdam, Holland. In addition, Hainan Airways, the Chinese airline, joins Abu Dhabi International Airport and operates twice weekly route connecting Beijing to Luanda via Abu Dhabi.



January: Five year deal announced with DFS International
February: Abu Dhabi Airports partners with Airport Council International in their APEX Safety Program to promote the application of best of practice in airport operation worldwide
March: Tony Douglas, the man responsible for delivering Khalifa Port and Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 on time and on budget, becomes Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Airports
April: Abu Dhabi International Airport named Best Airport in the Middle East for the second year in succession by World Airport Awards
May: Abu Dhabi International Airport becomes the world’s first airport to launch ‘GoSleep’ sleeping pods.
June: Jet Airways offers new route between Kochi and Kuwait via Abu Dhabi International Airport. 
July: Abu Dhabi Airports expands its global network with the arrival of the first Kenya Airways flight.
August: The new arrivals hall between Terminals 1 and 3 opens, significantly reducing the distance arriving passengers need to get to car parks, taxis and buses. The new arrivals hall is a key component of Abu Dhabi Airports’ Capacity Enhancement Programme
September: Abu Dhabi Airports hosts Airport Council International’s second Environment and Safety Committee Conference.
October: The first major milestone in the construction of the Midfield Terminal Complex is reached with the erection of the project’s first steel buttress, ahead of schedule. 
November: Abu Dhabi Airports begins the construction of a flagship building to be part of its newly branded initiative ‘Abu Dhabi Airport Business City’, as part of its efforts to support Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.
December: The grand opening of the 300 key Premier Inn Hotel takes place at Abu Dhabi International Airport.


January: A new scratch and win duty free promotion launched at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
February: The next major milestone in the construction of the Midfield Terminal Complex is reached, with the completion of the project’s first steel arch.
March:Abu Dhabi Airports signs 20 year fuel services agreement with ADNOC Distribution. The agreement will deliver an increase in fuel storage capacity at Abu Dhabi International Airport of 130 million liters. 


June: Abu Dhabi Airports achieves the ISO 27001:2013 standard of information security across all of its IT systems.
August: De-propping of the Midfield Terminal Building’s arches begins.
November: Abu Dhabi International Airport introduces automatic boarding pass validation system.


January: The Midfield Terminal Building’s District Cooling Plant is unveiled. It is one of the UAE’s largest facilities.
February: Abu Dhabi International Airport awarded ISO 22301 Management System Certificate, becoming the first airport in the region to be certified for Business Continuity Management.
March: Abu Dhabi International Airport launches Smart Travel system, allowing passengers to go through all airport processing interacting only with innovative technology.
March: Abu Dhabi International Airport and Etihad Airways welcome the one millionth passenger to the Airport’s US Preclearance Facility.
March: Abu Dhabi International Airport wins “Airport of the Year” at the Air Transport News Awards in the 10-30 million passengers category.
May: Abu Dhabi Airports awards F&B contracts for the Midfield Terminal Building to four global retailers.
June: Final de-propping work on roof of Midfield Terminal Building complete.
July: Abu Dhabi Duty Free Launches e-Commerce Website www.ADDF.ae.
October: Abu Dhabi Airports receives two awards for its new Duty Free website at the Interactive Media Awards.
October: Abu Dhabi Airports signs Memorandum of Understanding for the development of Seychelles International Airport.