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Zayed International Airport

Coordinates: 24°25′59″N 054°39′04″E / 24.43306°N 54.65111°E / 24.43306; 54.65111
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Zayed International Airport
Abu Dhabi International Airport

مطار زايد الدولي
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorAbu Dhabi Airports Company
ServesAbu Dhabi
Opened2 January 1982; 42 years ago (1982-01-02)
Hub for
Operating base for
Time zoneUAE Standard Time (UTC+04:00)
Elevation AMSL88 ft / 27 m
Coordinates24°25′59″N 054°39′04″E / 24.43306°N 54.65111°E / 24.43306; 54.65111
AUH/OMAA is located in United Arab Emirates
Location in the UAE
AUH/OMAA is located in Persian Gulf
AUH/OMAA (Persian Gulf)
AUH/OMAA is located in Middle East
AUH/OMAA (Middle East)
AUH/OMAA is located in Asia
Direction Length Surface
m ft
13R/31L 4,205 13,796 Asphalt
13L/31R 4,205 13,796 Asphalt
Statistics (2023)
Passenger movements22,935,316 (Increase 44.5%)
Aircraft movements226,362 (Increase 16.3%)
Cargo tonnage878,675 (Increase 45.8%)

Zayed International Airport (IATA: AUH, ICAO: OMAA) (Arabic: مطار زايد الدولي), also known as Abu Dhabi International Airport, is the primary international airport serving Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is the second busiest airport in the UAE after Dubai International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the Middle East and is the hub for Etihad Airways as well as an operating base for Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.

The airport is located 16.5 nautical miles (30.6 km; 19.0 mi) east of Abu Dhabi, and covers an area of 15,000 acres (6,000 ha).[3] The airport is served by 24 airlines which fly to 128 destinations.[4] The airport was renamed to Zayed International Airport on 9 February 2024 after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE's founder.



Early years


The airport was first conceived in 1974, in response to the government's plans to modernize the then brand new nation. At the time, Al Bateen Airport (then called Abu Dhabi International Airport) was the main international airport serving the city (Abu Dhabi Airfield was the other old airport). Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan had realized that it was hard to access the airport, as it was located on Abu Dhabi Island and that the island at the time was connected to the mainland by only one bridge. Also, the city was expanding at the time, making it harder for the airport to expand.[5] During the late 1970s, a location for the building site was strategically located, so it could be easily accessible. Construction started by 1979 and the airport was inaugurated on January 2, 1982. The old airport's name was changed to Al Bateen airport and the new airport was given its previous name.[5]

The new airport included a circular satellite terminal (with aerobridges) with a single connection to a semi-circular terminal.[6][7] This design allowed more aircraft to park simultaneously. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, substantial work was carried out on the satellite terminal, to cater for the increase in passenger numbers, including widening the passenger waiting areas and creating extra parking spots. The main terminal also underwent some external changes, especially on the outer facade.[citation needed]

Development since the 2000s


After the UAE government withdrew its support for regional airline Gulf Air after nearly five decades, Etihad was founded and became the new airline to be based at the airport. Previous Gulf Air CEO James Hogan also transferred to Etihad.

Terminal 2 was opened in September 2005 to ease pressure on the main terminal.[8] Terminal 2 did not have aerobridges and utilised buses to move passengers between aircraft and the terminal building. A second runway (Runway 13L/31R) was opened in October 2008 to cater to increased traffic. Terminal 3 was opened in January 2009. It was primarily used by Etihad Airways.[8] The new Terminal 3, a AED 1 billion (US$270 million) interim facility, was designed to allow for the airport's passenger growth before the planned opening of the new Midfield Terminal in December 2017 (which was eventually opened in November 2023). Used predominantly by Etihad Airways, the terminal boosted the airport's seven million passenger per year capacity to 12 million. It also added 10 new gates, two of which are Airbus A380 compatible.[9]

During the airport's early years of operation, there were no ways of getting to the airport from the cities except for private vehicle or taxis. With the creation of Abu Dhabi's bus network in the late 2000s and 2010s, city-to-airport bus services were introduced.[10]

In December 2011, the government of Abu Dhabi signed a letter of intent to build a United States border preclearance facility similar to pre-clearance customs facilities in Canada, Aruba, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and Ireland.[11] Etihad operated its first flight to the U.S. from the facility on January 25, 2014.[12][13] In 2011, the airport was recognised as the second Best Airport in Middle East at the Airport Service Quality Awards by Airports Council International.[14][15] The airport celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2012.[16]

Rotana Jet was another airline based at the airport; however, it suspended all flights indefinitely in 2017.[17]



Since late 2023, all flights at Abu Dhabi International Airport operate out of Terminal A,[18] while the former terminals have been closed.[19]

Terminal A

Layout of Terminal A
Interior of Terminal A

After several delays, development work started on a new passenger terminal, which was to be situated between the two runways and then known as the Midfield Terminal.[20] The Midfield Terminal has increased the airport's passenger capacity to more than 45 million per year, with options for this to double in capacity to 60 million.[21] An additional facility is under consideration that would take the capacity to 80 million. The new facility covers a floor area of over 780,000 square meters (8,400,000 sq ft), making it one of the largest airport terminal buildings in the world. It is capable of handling 79 Airbus A380-type aircraft and 11,000 passengers at peak hours. Equipped with modern and advanced facilities, it also has biometric technology to enable the screening and boarding processes to proceed faster. It has 35,000 square metres of retail and commercial space and 163 outlets. The general exterior of the terminal was designed by international architecture firm, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.

The new terminal was due to open on 7 July 2017, then pushed back to early 2019 in time for the 2019 Special Olympics, then delayed again until the final quarter of 2019.[22] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening date was pushed back to sometime in mid-to-late 2021; then, on 5 July 2021, a major construction contract was cancelled.[23] The contract was with a consortium which comprises United Arab Emirates-based Arabtec, Turkey's TAV Insaat and Athens-based Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), with Abu Dhabi-headquartered Trojan, had been awarded the contract to finish the terminal's construction instead.[24]

In early 2023, it was reported that the Midfield Terminal would open by the end of 2023.[25] On August 31, 2023, Abu Dhabi Airports announced that the new terminal, now named Terminal A, would open in 'early November' the same year. It was also reported that Etihad Airways, the main carrier based in the airport, would move its operations to the new terminal once opened, alongside other airlines based in Abu Dhabi, including Air Arabia Abu Dhabi and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi.[26][27]

A scene in the film Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One was filmed at the terminal before it officially opened. [28]

On 31 October 2023, the terminal was officially opened. All operating airlines shifted their operations gradually to the new terminal from the former three terminals. Etihad operated the first flight from the terminal on 31 October. Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and 15 other international airlines started to operate to and from the new terminal on 1 November. From 9 November, Etihad Airways operated 16 daily flights before completing its transition to this terminal on 14 November, together with Air Arabia Abu Dhabi and ten other airlines. From 14 November onwards, all airlines began operating from Terminal A.[29][30][31]

Former Terminals

Exterior of former Terminal 1.
Central waiting area inside now defunct Terminal 1.
Former apron of Terminal 1.

The airport formerly consisted of three terminals from different periods which had been significantly expanded over time. They were replaced by the new Terminal A in early 2024.

Terminal 1

This was the oldest facility, featuring a bi-level arrivals and departures area. The nine main gates (3–11) were equipped with jetbridges and located in a circular gate area while the check-in and arrivals facilities were located in a separate main building. There were also several bus boarding gates (gates 14–22), and passengers whose planes arrive at a remote stand were bused here.[19]

Terminal 2

Terminal 2 was a newer facility to the east of Terminal 1 and was not connected to it. It featured 19 check-in counters, 3 bus-boarding gates (gates 24–26) and two baggage claim belts and was mostly used by low-cost carriers to/from south Asia.[19]

Terminal 3

Terminal 3 was the newest addition of the old terminal area and was a direct expansion to the western side of Terminal 1. It is a brick-shaped, bi-level facility featuring a duty-free and food court area as well as departure gates 32–35 and 58–61, and bus gates 28–31 and 36–57.[19] The majority of passengers were bused to their airplanes as only 8 of its 34 gates are equipped with jetbridges.[32] Terminal 3 was capable of handling the Airbus A380s, and was used almost entirely by Etihad Airways.

City terminals

Until 2019, a check-in facility was operated in downtown Abu Dhabi, for travelers who wanted to check in at the downtown city centre before they travelled to the airport. This facility, known as the City Terminal, resembled an airport terminal building with lounge and transport facilities. After having checked in at the City Terminal, travellers could arrive at the airport just one hour before the departure of their flight.[33] A further check-in facility was operated by Etihad Airways at the Etihad Travel Mall on the outskirts of Dubai near Noor Bank metro station.[34]



US border preclearance


Zayed International Airport has had United States border preclearance facilities since 26 January 2014, the only airport in the Middle East to have such a facility.[35] Passengers on direct flights to the United States are processed for entry before they board their flight so that when they arrive in the U.S. they are treated as domestic arrivals. This facility is similar to those in selected Canadian, Caribbean and Irish airports.[36]



Zayed International Airport has two parallel runways, 13R/31L and 13L/31R. Both are 4,205 m × 60 m (13,796 ft × 197 ft).[37]



The expansion master plan projects include a third 4,205 m (13,796 ft) parallel runway, 2,000 m (6,562 ft) from the existing runways, a new 110 m (360 ft) tower between the two runways with the new air traffic control centre, enhanced cargo and maintenance facilities, and other commercial developments on the land immediately adjacent to and north of the airport. Having a total of 60 square kilometres (23 sq mi) of vast land area, the ambitious project will provide a home base for the UAE's national carrier, Etihad Airways, which will be a major user of new cargo facilities with an ultimate handling capacity of around two million tonnes of freight a year. Close to the new cargo facilities, land has been allocated for commercial activities, business parks, and property developments. Aircraft maintenance facilities will continue to be concentrated on the south side of the existing airport. The plan sets aside land for the growth of other operators such as Royal Jet and Abu Dhabi Aviation. Among other aspects of the project, when completed, are the design of remote aircraft stands complete with airfield ground lighting and hydrant fuel.[citation needed][needs update]

Airlines and destinations




The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Abu Dhabi:[38]

Aegean Airlines Athens (resumes 27 October 2024)[39]
Aeroflot Moscow–Sheremetyevo[40]
Air Arabia Ahmedabad, Alexandria, Amman–Queen Alia,[41] Baghdad,[42] Bahrain, Baku, Beirut,[43] Cairo, Chittagong, Chennai, Colombo–Bandaranaike,[44] Dhaka, Faisalabad, Istanbul–Sabiha Gökçen, Kathmandu, Kochi, Kolkata,[45] Kozhikode, Kuwait City,[43] Moscow–Domodedovo,[46] Multan, Mumbai, Muscat, Salalah, Sohag, Tashkent,[47] Tbilisi, Tehran–Imam Khomeini,[41] Thiruvananthapuram
Seasonal: Trabzon
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Air India Express[48] Bangalore (begins 23 July 2024),[49] Kannur,[50] Kochi, Kozhikode, Mangalore, Mumbai,[51] Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruchirappalli
Airblue Islamabad, Lahore
Akasa Air Mumbai[52]
Azur Air Seasonal charter: Moscow–Vnukovo
Badr Airlines Khartoum, Port Sudan[53]
Belavia Minsk[54]
Biman Bangladesh Airlines Chittagong, Dhaka, Sylhet
British Airways London–Heathrow[55]
Cham Wings Airlines Aleppo, Damascus
Egyptair Cairo
Etihad Airways Ahmedabad, Amman–Queen Alia, Amsterdam, Athens, Bahrain, Bangalore, Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi, Barcelona, Beijing–Daxing,[56] Beirut, Boston,[57] Brussels, Cairo, Casablanca, Chennai, Chicago–O'Hare, Colombo–Bandaranaike, Copenhagen,[58] Dammam, Delhi, Denpasar,[59] Doha,[60] Dublin, Düsseldorf,[61] Frankfurt, Gassim,[62] Geneva, Hyderabad, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jaipur,[63] Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta, Jeddah, Johannesburg–O.R. Tambo,[64] Karachi, Kochi, Kolkata,[65] Kozhikode,[66] Kuala Lumpur–International, Kuwait City, Lahore, Lisbon,[67][68] London–Heathrow, Madrid, Mahé, Malé, Manchester, Manila, Melbourne, Milan–Malpensa, Moscow–Sheremetyevo,[69] Mumbai, Munich, Muscat, New York–JFK, Osaka−Kansai,[70] Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Phuket, Riyadh, Rome–Fiumicino, Saint Petersburg,[71] Seoul–Incheon, Shanghai–Pudong, Singapore, Sydney, Tel Aviv,[72] Thiruvananthapuram,[66] Tokyo–Narita, Toronto–Pearson, Vienna,[73] Washington–Dulles, Zürich
Seasonal: Antalya,[74] Málaga,[75] Mykonos,[76] Nice,[77] Santorini[78]
Gulf Air Bahrain
Hainan Airlines Haikou[79]
Himalaya Airlines Kathmandu
IndiGo Ahmedabad,[80] Bangalore (begins 1 August 2024),[81] Chandigarh,[82] Chennai,[83] Coimbatore (begins 10 August 2024),[84] Delhi, Hyderabad,[83] Kannur,[85] Kochi, Kozhikode, Lucknow,[86] Mangalore (resumes 9 August 2024),[87] Mumbai, Tiruchirappalli (begins 11 August 2024)[88]
Iraqi Airways Baghdad
Jazeera Airways Kuwait City
Kam Air Kabul
Kuwait Airways Kuwait City
Middle East Airlines Beirut
Oman Air Muscat
Pakistan International Airlines Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Sialkot
Pegasus Airlines Istanbul–Sabiha Gökçen
Pobeda Makhachkala (begins 1 October 2024),[89] Moscow–Vnukovo[90]
Qatar Airways Doha
Royal Jordanian Amman–Queen Alia[91]
SalamAir Muscat,[92] Salalah
Saudia Jeddah, Medina, Riyadh
Smartwings Seasonal charter: Cologne/Bonn,[93] Leipzig/Halle,[93] Nuremberg,[93] Prague
SriLankan Airlines Colombo–Bandaranaike
SunExpress[94] Antalya, İzmir
Syrian Air Damascus, Latakia
Turkish Airlines Istanbul
Turkmenistan Airlines Aşgabat[95]
US-Bangla Airlines Chittagong, Dhaka[96]
Vistara Mumbai
Wizz Air Alexandria, Almaty, Amman–Queen Alia, Ankara, Aqaba, Astana, Athens, Baku, Belgrade, Bishkek,[97] Bucharest–Otopeni, Budapest, Chișinău (resumes 27 October 2024),[98] Dammam, Erbil,[99] Giza, Katowice, Kraków, Kutaisi, Kuwait City, Larnaca,[97] Malé, Medina, Muscat, Naples, Rome–Fiumicino, Salalah, Samarkand, Sofia, Sohag,[97] Tashkent, Tel Aviv, Tirana, Türkıstan,[100] Vienna, Yerevan
Seasonal: Catania,[101] Cluj-Napoca, Santorini, Sarajevo


CMA CGM Air Cargo Paris–Charles de Gaulle[102]
Etihad Cargo Amsterdam, Boston,[103] Chittagong, Columbus–Rickenbacker, Dammam, Delhi, Dhaka, Ezhou, Frankfurt, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Miami, Mumbai, Shanghai–Pudong[104][105][106]
Turkmenistan Airlines Cargo Ashgabat[107]



Passenger figures

Annual passenger traffic at AUH airport. See Wikidata query.

Busiest routes


Busiest international routes to and from Abu Dhabi Airport as of 2021:[108][needs update]

Rank Airport Country Total
1 Cairo International Airport Egypt 372,456
2 Islamabad International Airport Pakistan 209,280
3 Delhi International Airport India 197,012
4 Lahore International Airport Pakistan 184,315
5 Dhaka International Airport Bangladesh 182,983

Ground transportation




Zayed International Airport is connected to the Emirate and its surroundings, including Dubai and Al Ain, by a highway network.[109] Route E20 directly passes the airport. Car rental, taxis and dedicated chauffeur services are available.[109]

Public transport


Zayed International Airport does not feature any railway connection. The Abu Dhabi Department of Transport does provide overall seven bus routes from the airport throughout Abu Dhabi and its surroundings, including lines A1 and A2 which lead to the city center and run 24 hours per day.[110] Etihad Airways additionally provides a coach service for its passengers from Zayed International Airport to Al Ain and Downtown Dubai.[111]

Accidents and incidents

  • On 25 October 1977, Saif Ghubash was shot dead at the airport by a Palestinian gunman who lived in Syria, in an attempt to assassinate Syrian Foreign Minister Abdul Halim Khaddam.[citation needed]
  • On 23 September 1983, Gulf Air Flight 771 crashed while on approach to Zayed International Airport. All 112 passengers and crew on board were killed. A bomb going off in the baggage hold of the aircraft was the cause of the accident.[112]
  • In May 1997, a Gulf Air plane from Bombay airport crashed at the airport. No deaths were reported.[113]
  • On 26 July 2018, Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed to have launched a drone attack at the airport. The UAE denied there was any drone attack but stated earlier that there was an "incident" involving a truck which did not disrupt flights or cause any delays.[114] Two other alleged claims on a drone attack on the airport were reported by the Houthis, as well as two attacks on Dubai International Airport, all which were denied and unverified. An investigation by Bellingcat concluded that it was highly likely that a Houthi-led drone attack did not take place in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.[115] According to Reuters, the UAE has an advanced air defense system which utilizes Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), designed to destroy short and intermediary range missiles.[116] In 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that a Houthi drone had exploded at the airport.[117] In May 2019, the Houthi-run Almasirah TV channel broadcast alleged footage of the July 2018 attack.[118]
  • On January 17, 2022, a drone strike claimed by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group caused three fuel trucks to catch fire at an oil tanker facility in Abu Dhabi, and at the same time a fire was separately ignited at an extension of the airport, causing minor flight delays.[119][120]

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