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Abu Dhabi Airports to receive Turkmenistan flights; plans new private jet hangars

Francois Bourienne, the ADA’s chief commercial officer said the airport operator is in discussions with 20 to 30 airlines at any given point

Abu Dhabi Airports (ADA) will see flights from Turkmenistan to Abu Dhabi within two weeks, and it plans to build new hangars at Al Bateen Executive Airport due to the rise in demand for post-pandemic private-jet travel, said Francois Bourienne, the ADA’s chief commercial officer at Abu Dhabi Air Expo 2022.

“We will have Turkmenistan starting some flights from Ashgabat to Abu Dhabi two weeks from now,” said Bourienne.

October was a good month for the ADA, he said, with Vistara starting flights from Mumbai to Abu Dhabi early in the month and Ariana Afghan Airlines resuming flights to Al Ain in the middle of October after seven years.

“We are in discussions with 20 to 30 airlines at any given point, but things take time to materialise. Currently, we still have some of the airlines from the region showing some interest, but they had to delay their flights due to their focus on other regions and regulatory issues such as traffic rights. But Abu Dhabi is still in their plans for next year,” said Bourienne.

Besides Bateen, ADA owns and operates Abu Dhabi International Airport, Al Ain International Airport, Delma Island Airport and Sir Bani Yas Island Airport. The airport operator now expects the Gulf hub to handle at least 13 million passengers in 2022, up from an earlier projection in February of 10.07 million.

Bourienne added that the focus has increased on Al Bateen Executive Airport. “We are working on core parts of the project such as improving the VIP lounge guest experience. We have seen that the private jet businesses are booming, and so we are also looking at building more hangars, because all the available ones have been rented over the last few weeks,” he said. 

“Many people who tried [commercial travel] during the pandemic do not want to go back to commercial planes. And in this region, due to the high temperatures and the dust, having hangars is a must,” he added. He noted, however, that these plans were in “early stages of discussion”, which meant that timelines and the numbers of hangars to be built were yet to be confirmed.

In passenger traffic, the third quarter of 2022 offered good results. “In the third quarter of this year, we recovered 80% of the traffic of 2019,” Bourienne said. “In Q2, we were around 68 percent, and we had in excess of 4.5 million passengers over the three months of the summer. And looking forward to Q4, we are even looking at 85% recovery. So, we go from strength to strength.”

Passenger traffic at Abu Dhabi International Airport nearly quadrupled during the second quarter of 2022 amid a resurgence in demand and the easing of travel restrictions in key markets around the world, The National reported.

In the first six months of 2022, passenger traffic jumped fivefold to 6.3 million across the emirate’s five airports, with Abu Dhabi International Airport alone accounting for 6.2 million of that total.