Dubai, Sep 30 (UNI) The Abu Dhabi Airports Company is planning a major upgrade of the Abu Dhabi airport with an estimated expenditure of seven billion dollars to handle more than 40 million passengers and 2.5 million tonnes of cargo annually, a nearly five-fold increase over its current capacity.
The airport, which now handles seven million passengers a year, is being transformed into a world-class facility able to handle 20 million passengers and one million tonnes of cargo by the end of 2010, with the addition of two new passenger terminals, a second runway, an air traffic control complex, a cargo terminal and a free trade zone.
Last month, the Abu Dhabi Executive Council announced its policy agenda for 2007-08 and embarked on an ambitious strategy to attract three million visitors per year by 2015.
''The incremental expansion of the airport beyond 2010 will depend on demand, but there's sufficient space to make new additions,'' Gulf News reported quoting sources.
''The expansion is proposed to be in a phased manner,'' he said.
''The best-in-class airport facilities will cater to the growth of the emirate for half a century into the future,'' the ADAC said.
It added that the expanded airport will provide the infrastructural support needed for Abu Dhabi's drive to become a major business and tourist hub.
The Company added that it plans to cater to the needs of Etihad Airways, whose fast-track expansion has acted as a further stimulant to the airport's growth since the international carrier was established in 2003.
Etihad, which currently operates 29 wide-bodied aircraft, plans to have 50 aircraft by 2010, flying to nearly 70 destinations from its base at Abu Dhabi international Airport.
''The two additional terminals will come successively on line by 2008 and 2010, with Terminal 3 ready in mid-2008, enabling Etihad's growth until the midfield terminal, the centre-piece of the redevelopment programme, comes on stream by the end of 2010.
A second runway and a new air traffic control complex will become operational in 2008, and a new cargo terminal is due for completion in 2010.
The plan also includes a free trade zone and a host of other economic development projects, the ADAC said.
''The new airport will showcase the UAE's cultural, environmental and economic achievements. It will feature architecturally innovative and operationally efficient facilities offering world-class service to both Etihad Airways and the other airlines, those who have already established a presence at Abu Dhabi as well as others who are planning to follow suit,'' it added.