Asked to chose an airline from Manila to Paris last year for Photoquai 2013, where I was the lone Filipino photographer invited to the major international photography exhibition, I intentionally chose to pass Abu Dhabi International Airport than go via Hong Kong. The reason? I’ve been to HKIA. I haven’t seen the Middle East and flying via Etihad Airways will give me a stop there.
Thus, after almost flying around eight hours from Manila, I arrived at 5AM in Abu Dhabi International Airport. It was my seventh (of nine international airports outside of the Philippines) and my first in Abu Dhabi and the Middle East. Then waited for three hours before my onward flight to CDG in Paris.
The airport, built around 1989 is a bit dated. It was smaller than I expected but is currently undergoing expansion which is scheduled to open on 2017 to cater to more passengers and cargo. In the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi International Airport is the hub of Etihad. While Dubai International Airport is Emirates’s hub and Doha International Airport the home of Qatar Airways.
People transiting and waiting for their onward flights congregate at the central area of the airport with its iconic cone design in colorful geometric patters. It consists of two floors: the ground floor being duty free shops while the second waiting areas, airport gates, restaurants and shops. It’s a bit cramped with all the passengers that many just sit on the floor.
If I ever get a chance to go to Europe again, I would chose another transit airport that I haven’t been to. Not Singapore or Bangkok, Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur.