Celebrations have taken place to mark the 40th anniversary of the official opening of Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH).

The airport was first conceived in 1974, in response to the government's plans to modernise the newly formed United Arab Emirates. Construction began in 1979 and the new Abu Dhabi International Airport was officially opened on January 2, 1982, featuring a circular satellite terminal with a single connection to a semi-circular terminal. 

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the terminal was expanded to cater for the increase in passenger numbers. Etihad became the national carrier and the home airline in 2003, providing a catalyst for rapid growth and paving the way for the opening of Terminal 2 in September 2005, a second runway (Runway 13L/31R) in 2008 and Terminal 3 in January 2009, boosting the airport's capacity to 12 million passengers per year. 

The airport has also been home to a number of ‘firsts’. In 2014, AUH introduced the first United States border pre-clearance facilities in the Middle East. Two years later, AUH launched the Smart Travel System, the first of its kind in the region, to ease passenger processing and enhance the customer experience. During the early onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, AUH was among the first to introduce contactless gates and touchless elevators. 

Technology will also be front-and-centre at the airport’s new Midfield Terminal Building. Construction of the Midfield Terminal Complex started in 2012 and is now 97% complete. Once opened, the Midfield Terminal Building will accommodate up to 45 million passengers per year.

“Abu Dhabi International has a proud history of providing world-class infrastructure and top-flight service while serving as a catalyst for growth for 40 of our proud nation’s 50 years of achievement,” said Shareef Al Hashmi, CEO, Abu Dhabi Airports. “As consumer confidence rebounds and traffic gradually recovers, we will continue to explore new technologies, products and ways of doing business that will drive improved sustainability and create industry-leading airport experiences. As proud as we are of our past achievements, we are equally excited about our bright future.”