A construction milestone has been achieved at Abu Dhabi International Airport’s new terminal, which will become one of the world’s largest when it opens in 2017.
The first buttress for the steel arches to support the Midfield Terminal’s roof was laid on Sunday, a week ahead of schedule.
The sprawling site, which is littered with dozens of cranes and steel columns, has, until now, been hidden from view from drivers on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai road, but will start to become visible as work to build the roof begins.
“I think it’s fair to say that it’s been one of Abu Dhabi’s better kept secrets,” said Tony Douglas, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Airports, during a tour of the site yesterday.
“But what we achieved [on Sunday] will take it from a pretty well kept secret to a spectator sport going forward.”
Ali Majed Al Mansoori, the chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports, said: “Achieving this milestone is a significant step along the path of developing world-class airport infrastructure for Abu Dhabi, and its goal of becoming a vital transportation hub for the region.”
About 12,000 construction workers are working on the project, which is located between the airport’s two runways and is due to open on July 17, 2017.
The buttress is one of 18 structures that will form the base of the Midfield Terminal steel frame. The base will hold nine arches comprising the building’s roof, which will have a span of 180 metres at its widest point, with each arch weighing around 700 tonnes.
At its peak, the roof of the terminal will be 52 metres tall.
“It is 700,000 square metres. To put that into perspective, if you are familiar with Terminal 3 in Dubai, it is about one-and-a-half times bigger,” Mr Douglas said.
“If you are familiar with Heathrow’s Terminal 5, including the satellite … this is about one-and-a-half times bigger. It’s absolutely enormous.”
The glazing that surrounds the building is 4.5 kilometres long, making it one of the largest glazing contracts in the world.
The retail offering, at approximately the size of Abu Dhabi Mall, will also be one of the largest in an airport terminal anywhere.
The airport is built to cater to 30 million passengers per year, with 156 standard check-in counters and 48 self-service kiosks, plus provision for up to eight airline lounges. Its baggage handling system will be more than 22km long, with capacity to handle 19,000 bags per hour.