Passenger traffic through Abu Dhabi International Airport  rose more than 21 per cent in the first quarter of this year over the same period last year.
More than 3.4 million passengers passed through the airport during the first three months, with more than a third of those flying last month, said Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) , the Abu Dhabi Government-owned operator of the emirate's airports.
"The first quarter of this year has proven to be yet another successful period for Abu Dhabi International Airport," said Harib Al Hameli, the vice president of operations for the airport. "The double-digit growth in the number of passengers reflects the level of attraction the emirate holds as a soaring business and tourism destination in the region, and the dynamic developments of Etihad and other airline partners."
On the basis of the first-quarter results and the increased aircraft movement and passenger traffic projected for the rest of the year, 2012 looks set to be another record year, Mr Al Hameli said. A total of 29,123 flights went through the airport during the first quarter, Adac said. Cargo traffic rose 11 per cent during the period versus last year's first quarter.
The pace of the rise in passenger traffic quickened last month, as 1.2 million travellers used the airport, 22 per cent more than in the same period last year. To accommodate the growing number of passengers, Adac is pushing ahead with the long-delayed Midfield Terminal. Work is expected to start this year on the structure, which will be capable of handling between 27 million and 30 million passengers a year by its scheduled opening in 2017.
The strong rise in first-quarter traffic reflects Etihad Airways' expansion of routes during the period. This month, the airline reported a 27.4 per cent rise in passenger traffic during the quarter, up by just over half a million travellers. It added service to Tripoli, Shanghai and Nairobi during the quarter. The airline's cargo volumes also rose robustly.
"In the first quarter of this year, we have seen a comparably strong performance," David Kerr, the vice president of cargo for Etihad, said last month. Doha, Bangkok, London, Manila and Jeddah generated the most traffic for Abu Dhabi International during the first quarter. The Far East was the top region, accounting for 39 per cent of airport traffic, followed by the Middle East with 25 per cent and Europe with 22 per cent. About 12.4m passengers passed through the airport last year. This year, airport authorities are hoping to handle up to 14m.