(ABU DHABI, UAE) - While air travel has slowed down in much of the world, passenger numbers at Abu Dhabi International Airport are up 32.8 percent in 2008. At this rate, more than nine million people will have traveled to, from or through the UAE capital by the end of the year.
One of the main reasons for the growth is the expansion of Etihad Airways, the national airline, whose home base is Abu Dhabi. The airline has been adding destinations and increasing flights to India, the airport's largest passenger market. Pakistan is the second largest. These two countries contribute the greatest number of expatriate workers to the UAE.
Today Etihad Airlines announced it has arranged $210 million in financing from four banks to pay for two Airbus 340-600 super jumbo jets for its long distance fleet. One of the jets is already flying for Etihad. The second will be delivered in December. Etihad has 39 aircraft; by December when the second Airbus A340-600 arrives, the fleet will number 42.
James Hogan, Etihad's chief executive, said, "These deals have been secured at a time of extreme liquidity stress in the international banking market, and their conclusion in this adverse environment is indicative of the strong relationship between Etihad Airways and the regional and international financial community."
To meet demand, Abu Dhabi Airport is preparing a new terminal.
Rudy Vercelli, CEO of Abu Dhabi Airport Company (ADAC), said "I am pleased to note that the full integration and operations of Terminal 3 will take place in a phased introduction over the next few months."
According to ADAC, the top five most popular city destinations from Abu Dhabi in October 2008 were Doha, London, Bangkok, Cairo and Bahrain. The five cities accounted for 17.8 percent of total traffic.