Published on January 5th, 2016 | by Jim Lee


ARI wins ten year Duty Free contract at Abu Dhabi Airport

On 22nd December, the daa’s international retailing subsidiary, ARI (Aer Rianta International), announced that it had been awarded a ten year Duty Free contract at Abu Dhabi Airport, by the Abu Dhabi Airports Company. ARI is a wholly owned subsidiary of daa and manages all retail and food and beverage (F&B) operations at Dublin and Cork Airports. In addition, ARI has extensive airport retail operations, in ten countries overseas. ARI’s travel retail stores in Ireland, Canada and New Zealand trade under ‘The Loop’ brand name. Its managed turnover is in excess of €775 million. ARI manages retail operations in ten countries worldwide with a combined workforce of approximately 3,500, which will increase to approximately 4,000, following the award of this contract. ARI was awarded the coveted Frontier Award for Airport Retailer of the Year for the T1 redevelopment in Dublin in 2015.

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is one of the fastest growing airport hubs in the world, currently serving over 96 destinations, in 54 countries. In 2014 over 20 million passengers used AUH as their origin, destination or transit point for international or domestic flights. For the first three quarters of 2015, it recorded an impressive 18% growth in passenger traffic, with a total of 17,473,063 passengers. The top ten busiest routes for the first nine months of 2015 included destinations in the U.K., U.S.A., Saudi Arabia, Australia, Qatar, Thailand and Germany. Total aircraft traffic was also up 14.3% in the first three quarters of the year, in which AUH successfully facilitated 129,703 aircraft movements. As the second largest airport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the airport serves as a base and hub to Etihad Airways, the fast-growing national flag carrier of the UAE.

Abu Dhabi existing terminal

Abu Dhabi existing terminal

The airport is committed to ensuring that its able to provide world-class services, which will continue to meet this growing demand over the coming years, and to contribute both to the long-term success of the aviation sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and to the rapidly growing and diversifying economy of Abu Dhabi and the U.A.E. This will lead to an anticipated 30 million passengers using the airport in 2017.

To this end, construction began in 2013 on the Midfield Terminal Complex, which is destined to become the primary gateway for Etihad Airways and its partners, and it will include cargo and catering facilities, utilities and related infrastructure. As the name describes, it is situated between Abu Dhabi International Airport’s two runways allowing for the shortest possible journey from runway to parking stand, resulting in a quicker and smoother experience for passengers.

The heart of this complex is the highly innovative and iconic Midfield Terminal Building (MTB), which is due for completion in the fourth quarter of 2017. This will be the largest singular building in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and one of the region’s most architecturally impressive structures.

Abu Dhabi International Airport's Midfield Terminal Complex

Abu Dhabi International Airport’s Midfield Terminal Complex

The MTB is a state of the art terminal building, 700,000 square meters in size and visible from more than 1.5km away. Its central terminal space can easily fit 21 football fields. It includes associated aircraft parking stands and support facilities, as well as duty free shops and restaurants that will cater for a total capacity of 27.1 million annual passengers on opening day. In addition to being a visually stunning world class airport, it has been designed with sustainability in mind both environmentally and commercially. The new terminal will facilitate 28,000 square meters of commercial space and the entire duty free area covers 7,500 square meters in total.

Abu Dhabi' existing Duty Free

Abu Dhabi’ existing Duty Free

To support a maximum of 30 million passengers – around 8,500 peak-hour passengers per hour each – way, up to 65 contact stands for variable sized aircrafts including 8 Code F aircraft (A380) with an additional 14 remote stands available. Passenger throughput is facilitated by 156 conventional counters and 48 self-service kiosks while provision has been made for up to eight airline lounges, totalling approximately 27,500 square meters.

ARI delighted at the award of this significant contract

This is a very important contract for ARI and one which will allow them to retail the perfume, cosmetics, skincare, sunglasses and fashion jewellery categories at MTB from December 2017. Being for a period of ten years, it allows for the business to grow as passenger numbers continue to climb.

Commenting on the win ARI CEO Jack MacGowan said; “From the moment we started work on the bid submission we were energised by Abu Dhabi Airports’ commercial vision ‘to create the worlds’ best, consumer and leisure experience at an airport’. It’s an ambition that is very much in tune with our own company purpose to create outstanding shopping experiences every time. This focus on the customer experience defines us as a retailer and was central to every element of our proposal from concepts, through to merchandising, design and operations”.

He went on “Winning the Abu Dhabi concession reinforces our position as the leading multi-location retailer in the Middle East and we, together with our partners, are looking forward to working alongside ADAC to deliver a unique and world class customer experience.”

“ARI will bring to Abu Dhabi its global experience of successful airport retail operations and airport partnerships,” according to MacGowan. “We will also draw on our unparalleled understanding of the passenger mix in the Gulf region, which has been honed by over 25 years of operations in this area”.

Paying tribute to the entire ARI project team who worked tirelessly on this submission, he said that delivering “sensational experiences” was at the heart of its proposal. “It will be especially rewarding to see our innovative designs, retail concepts and customer services brought to life at the new Midfield terminal” he added.

In conclusion MacGowan said, “This is a significant win for ARI, in what was one of the most competitive tender processes in recent travel retail history. It caps off a very successful year for ARI following on from our success in entering the Asia Pacific market by securing the Auckland contract and the hugely successful commercial redevelopment of T1 in Dublin airport”.

Links between Abu Dhabi International Airport and ARIs Dublin base

Abu Dhabi International Airport is Etihad's hub

Abu Dhabi International Airport is Etihad’s hub

The Abu Dhabi-Dublin route is currently operated at a twice daily frequency, mostly operated by Airbus A330-200s, but with some Boeing 777-300ERs being used on the morning service, the EY045/42. It leaves Abu Dhabi at 02:20 and arrives in Dublin at 07:00. It returns to Abu Dhabi, departing at 08:30 and arriving at 20:10. The flight distance is 3,688 miles, or 5,936 km and the flight time varies between 8 hours 20 minutes and 8 hours 40 minutes.

The evening service, the EY041/48 arrives in Dublin at 14:15 and returns to Abu Dhabi at 19:05. It is being suspended from 12th January, at which stage the morning service changes to a Boeing 777-200ER.

In the twelve months to the end of September 2015, 314,515 passengers travelled on the route with inbound passengers at 159,457, being slightly higher than outbound at 155,058, a 50.7%/49.3% split. A distribution of this traffic is shown in the following graphic.

Traffic to Dubai to Sept 2015

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About the Author

Jim has had a life-long interest in military matters and aviation. Initially, he fused both of these interests together with a passion for military aviation, initially as a photographer. He has travelled extensively over the years and has been the guest of many European air forces, plus the air forces of the United States, Russia and others throughout the world. His first introduction to journalism coincided with an interest in the civil aviation industry was when he initially wrote for and later edited, ‘Aviation Ireland’, the club magazine of the Aviation Society of Ireland. Jim was a contributor to Flying in Ireland since its inception over 10 years ago and is now a key contributor to this site. He has also contributed items for a number of other aviation magazines and has produced a number of detailed contributions to Government policy documents, most recently the Irish Government’s White Paper on Defence. He is also deeply involved in the local community and voluntary sector and has worked both in local government and central government.

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