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Abu Dhabi airport in new terminal setback

The builders of Abu Dhabi's new airport terminal have stopped issuing a timetable for completion after already pushing back its target date by a year.

The builders of Abu Dhabi's new airport terminal have stopped issuing a timetable for completion after already pushing back its target date by a year. Preliminary earthworks and piling are under way and a new 110-metre air traffic control tower is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The Dh25 billion (US$6.8bn) Midfield Terminal, a vital piece of infrastructure to accommodate the next phase of growth for Etihad Airways, was originally expected to open in 2011 with the capacity to handle 20 million passengers a year in its first phase and more than 40 million passengers a year when finished. Officials from Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) and the Supervision Committee for the Expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport (SCADIA) had already evaluated construction bids and financing methods but delayed the expected completion date by a year to 2012. Now ADAC says the company has stopped issuing completion dates for the terminal. "Our official position on this is, Abu Dhabi Airports Company's planned Midfield Terminal complex is expected to be open within the coming few years," an ADAC spokesman said. Government planners are also expected to award the main construction contract in the coming months to one of three international bidders. Abu Dhabi airport, which is served by more than 40 international carriers, was the fastest-growing airport in the world last year, according to Airports Council International, led by the rise of Etihad Airways. To cope with this growth, ADAC opened the Dh1bn Terminal 3 for the exclusive use of Etihad Airways earlier this year, although this terminal is seen only as a stopgap for Etihad which will require even larger facilities in the coming years as it opens new routes and receives new aircraft. Although the financial crisis has caused a slump in air travel Etihad has stuck by its long-term forecast of carrying 25 million passengers a year by 2020, up from six million last year. The huge Midfield Terminal, designed in the shape of the letter "X" by the London-based Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, will be built between the two runways at Abu Dhabi airport. Earlier this year Rudy Vercelli, then chief executive of ADAC, said recent changes in the company's board of directors meant more time was required to award the contract. "We are not yet ready, we want to make sure the new board is in place, fully informed and abreast of what's going on before we move forward," he said. An official from one of the UAE's largest contracting firms said the building industry expected the expansion to be unaffected by the financial crisis. igale@thenational.ae

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