Abu Dhabi International Airport decided to exit the last millennium in grand style, announcing the opening of the first ever City Terminal in the Middle East.
Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Civil Aviation, stated, "At Abu Dhabi Airport, we constantly strive for excellence and innovation and as a result we have achieved many international awards. The City Terminal is our crowning glory and we feel that its launch was a fitting way to end the century".
The City Terminal eases travel pressures on passengers and makes travelling out of Abu Dhabi International Airport a pleasant experience. Passengers can proceed to the City Terminal up to eight hours prior to their flight (some airlines, such as Gulf Air, have decided to extend this eight hours to 24). Once the passenger has checked in at the City Terminal, he can arrive at Abu Dhabi International Airport up to only 35 minutes prior to the departure of his flight.
Luggage is screened through a security system and transported to the international airport and on to the aircraft. Once the passenger has checked in his luggage, he receives his boarding card and he can proceed to the Duty Free counter to purchase a wide range of Duty Free products through a catalogue, which will then be ready for collection at a specially designated 'City Terminal Duty Free collection point' upon arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Mohamed Mounib, the managing director of Abu Dhabi Duty Free, stated, "This expansion of Abu Dhabi Duty Free has been made possible by the Duty Free suppliers who have offered their support to the project by including a selection of their range for sale through the City Terminal catalogue."
He continued, "Abu Dhabi International Airport, under the leadership of HE Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, is rapidly gaining a reputation as an industry leader with innovative concepts such as the City Terminal".
Facilities available at the City Terminal include a VIP lounge where travellers can enjoy a relaxing atmosphere and meals. A fully equipped business centre has been set up for passengers, where travelling business executives can do all their work, with access to fax machines, professional secretaries and Internet connection. Shower facilities are also available for passengers in case they wish to refresh themselves prior to departure. Luxury coaches are available to transfer passengers to the airport.
For business visitors to Abu Dhabi, the City Terminal provides an invaluable service. As most hotels only allow late check-out up to 6pm, and many international flights leave in the middle of the night, business travellers often find themselves carrying heavy luggage around the city. Now, however, they can check out of their hotel after breakfast and go straight to the City Terminal to check in, leave their luggage, and receive their boarding card, before continuing with their day's business. They can then proceed to the airport a mere 35 minutes before take-off, allowing them to enjoy an evening in Abu Dhabi city with no travel pressures.
Following the success of the City Terminal since its opening in June 1999, the City Terminal management has decided to implement a number of plans to enable more people to take advantage of the service.
Mohamed Al Hameli, City Terminal manager, said, "Now that the City Terminal is established, we are embarking on the next stage to increase the number of people who are entitled to use the facility. We are now adopting a new marketing policy to promote the City Terminal facilities, and particularly the strategic location of the City Terminal."
Several of the city's five-star hotels have entered into agreements to offer the City Terminal services to their guests, and many hotel guests and businessmen have already taken advantage of the facilities at the City Terminal.
Similar agreements have also been implemented with some of the largest companies in Abu Dhabi, who are offering pre-check in at the City Terminal to their guests.
To begin with, the City Terminal service was available to the First and Business Class passengers of the participating airlines, and the members of their Frequent Flyer programmes. The service is also available to annual members and day members of the Golden Class service, regardless of their ticket class or of which airline they might be travelling with. Golden Class is offering the City Terminal service as an added bonus to its members, in addition to the numerous advantages of Golden Class membership. Non-members of the Golden Class can purchase a day membership, entitling them to all the facilities of the Golden Class plus the use of the City Terminal, at the rates of Dh70 per person or Dh45 per person in a group of two and above, and Dh25 per child.
There are now eleven airlines using the City Terminal.
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