Abu Dhabi International airport reopened its southern runway following a Dhs830 million upgrade project that will allow the airport to accommodate larger aircraft such as the A380 and the Boeing 787, the airport operator said in a statement.
The upgrade of the southern runway included its refurbishment and widening, and elevating it to a Code “F” standard that will allow the runway to accommodate every type of commercial aircraft in the world.
Post the upgrade, the southern runway can now function independently of the parallel northern runway, the statement added.
Together, both runways will reach a total combined capacity of 500,000 aircraft movements annually, making Abu Dhabi International Airport one of the largest two-runway operations in the world.
The opening of the refurbished runway was marked with an A380 take-off and landing.
Following its opening, Abu Dhabi International Airport will be able to handle more passenger and freight aircraft. The airport’s passenger capacity is further set to rise to 45 million when the Midfield terminal becomes operational in 2017.
The runway upgrade was also a key component of Abu Dhabi airport’s Southern Airfield programme that included the construction of an airside road tunnel running underneath the southern runway. The tunnel, which is more than 1.2 kilometres and 40 metres wide, will enable full connectivity between the new Midfield terminal and the existing Terminals 1 and 3.
An additional 21 wide body aircraft stands were also constructed along the apron to accommodate increased aircraft movement.
Abu Dhabi airport’s upgrade is also expected to accommodate Etihad’s fleet expansion plans and boost the airport’s push to become a regional aviation hub.
“I am proud to announce the successful delivery of the southern runway renovation project, a major milestone in the development of Abu Dhabi International Airport,” said Ali Majed Al Mansoori, chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports and the company’s board of directors.
“Today’s event is important not just for Abu Dhabi Airports but also for Abu Dhabi as a whole, as the emirate continues to stamp its mark on the world as a major transportation hub and an attractive destination for both tourists and businesses.”
Like its neighbouring emirate Dubai, Abu Dhabi is rapidly emerging to be a busy aviation hub, taking advantage of its strategic location in the region to be an ideal transit point.
During the first half of 2014, passenger traffic at Abu Dhabi International Airport jumped 19.4 per cent from a year earlier to 9.48 million people, the airport operator had revealed earlier.