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Abu Dhabi Airport Renamed Zayed International Ahead of Terminal A Debut

The airport will be officially renamed Zayed International Airport honoring the founder of the United Arab Emirates

by Lauren Smith

November 20, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Abu Dhabi International Airport

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) will be officially renamed Zayed International Airport, in honor of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The new name will take effect on February 9, 2024, coinciding with the official opening of the airport’s new Terminal A.

The name change is a directive of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, and is presumably in honor of his father. Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was the founder of the UEA and its president from 1971 until his death in 2004.

The announcement of the name change came as flights began from the $3 billion Terminal A.

Photo: Courtesy of Etihad

Although the official opening of Terminal A won’t take place until February, the first commercial flight from the terminal departed on Tuesday: an Airbus A350-1000, operated by UEA’s national airline Etihad Airways and bound for New Delhi (DEL).

To mark the occasion, all passengers on the flight, including those in the economy cabin, were welcomed as the inaugural guests at the new flagship Etihad Lounge. The lounge, which spans three floors of Terminal A, features a rooftop cocktail bar, games room, relaxation spaces, and direct boarding access for three aircraft.

Etihad will now shift its operations from its former home in Terminal 3 to the new Terminal A. By November 14, all of its flights will depart from Terminal A.

At 742,000 square meters (nearly 8 million square feet), the new terminal can accommodate 79 aircraft simultaneously and host up to 45 million passengers annually, doubling the airport’s capacity.

To keep up with the traffic, the terminal has a state-of-the-art baggage handling system that can process 19,200 bags per hour. To cut waiting times for travelers, the terminal will eventually use nine biometric touchpoints, using facial recognition technology to identify and screen passengers at check-in desks, baggage drop, e-gates, boarding gates, lounges, and immigration counters, among others. The technology will allow the airport to process up to 11,000 passengers per hour.

Antonaldo Neves, CEO of Etihad Airways, said: “Our congratulations go to the Abu Dhabi leadership for their vision in creating what is one of the world’s most spectacular airports. The terminal is a stunning piece of architecture that echoes the local landscape and warmly welcomes our guests and elevates their travel experience.”