Passenger traffic at Abu Dhabi’s airport is forecast to grow by 20 per cent year on year by the end of 2012, pushing the existing airport infrastructure to capacity.

The planned midfield terminal building at the airport is on target for completion in October 2016, providing much-needed additional capacity.  The consortium of Turkey’s TAV, Athens-based Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) and the local Arabtec Construction was given notice to proceed with the construction work in August.

However, handling the growing passenger volumes passing in and out of the Abu Dhabi airport in the years leading up to 2016 could prove difficult. In 2011, the airport handled 12.4 million passengers and this number is only set to increase.

“The challenge is capacity,” Daniel Molley, acting chief development officer at the Abu Dhabi Airport Company, told delegates at MEED’s Abu Dhabi Conference 2012.

To meet current demand, ADAC is implementing a capacity enhancement programme due to be completed by the first quarter of 2014.

The scheme will involve adding new facilities to the current infrastructure, including a US customs preclearance system, which means US-bound travellers can be cleared through US immigration and customs in Abu Dhabi.

The introduction of this scheme is a first for the GCC region and represents a “big win” for Abu Dhabi that will spur further growth to the airport, Molley said.