Abu Dhabi’s first airport–back in the 1930s–was at Al Bateen, now the site of Al Bateen Executive Airport. With a long, single runway the airport came into military use when the new Abu Dhabi International Airport opened in 1982 and only in recent years has this role started to give way to business aviation, which can benefit greatly from the airport’s close proximity to the city center. In fact, with Abu Dhabi continuing full-steam ahead with a $500 billion diversification effort as part of its 2030 Plan, the future looks bright for Al Bateen.
The airport handles on average 10 to 15 flights a day, although in peak times activity can reach 20, and even 35 flights “on very busy days,” said Faisal Fayez, senior FBO officer at DhabiJet, the official FBO at Al Bateen. The airport expects the number of private jets based there (currently 20) to grow by 50 percent in the short term and the 2012 tally of 12,000 commercial movements to double or more by 2020.
Al Bateen has proved popular with visitors to events such as the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix race and the annual IDEX defense exhibition (held across the street at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre).
The runway is 10,000 feet (3,200 m) long, so it can handle aircraft up to the size of Airbus A310s and Boeing 767-200s. Fayez pointed out that the ramp can accommodate 100 to 200 aircraft. “But the best part is we don’t have any slots, so landing permission is easy to get and turnaround is only 25 to 30 minutes with fueling. So we’re good for fuel stops as well.”
Although Al Bateen’s clearly apparent day-to-day advantage is its proximity to the business district, another less well known advantage is that it is less susceptible to fog than the international airport.
Al Bateen has a main passenger terminal, and the executive terminal is the housed in the former presidential suite, which is now home to DhabiJet. Workers at the airport still refer to it as “The Lounge,” which distinguishes it from the Terminal, some 100 yards down the ramp. Last year, the construction of a second, two-story building added crew lounges, snooze rooms, work stations, meeting rooms, pantry, shower facilities and a prayer room.
Although DhabiJet is the official FBO at Al Bateen, various other business aviation companies have a presence at the airport. “Based operators” now include Al Jaber Aviation (AJA), Falcon Aviation Services, Jet Aviation, Luxury Jet, Prestige Jet, Rotana Jet, Royal Helite Helicopters, Sky Aviation and XOJet.
The Abu Dhabi Air Expo will be held at Al Bateen from February 25 to 27, giving business aviation operators an opportunity to explore further what the airport has to offer.