ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad international airport will soon have a new look with a blast-proof concrete wall in front of its main building, a spacious car parking and other facilities.
A senior official of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) told Dawn that 2.7 international and 1.5 million domestic passengers used the airport annually.
He said the under-construction New Islamabad International Airport would take about two more years to become fully operational.
But even after its completion, the existing airport will be used by VVIP and domestic flights and the Pakistan Air Force.
“This is what warranted the long overdue upgradation of the airport as some facilities have been missing for years,” he remarked.
A number of key facilities are being added to the airport
The renovation work costing Rs380 million has been awarded to the National Logistics Cell (NLC), which is working at a high pace to complete the project by the end of the current month.
A key component of the project is the construction of a 1,700x75 feet taxiway link adjacent to the lone runway. The link will help save some nine million dollars per annum as it will reduce the waiting time of the aircraft ready for takeoff and landing.
Abdul Shakoor Tahir, the assistant manager (architecture) CAA, said a 93,500 square-foot land adjacent to the existing car parking had been taken on lease from the Pakistan Army for two years.
A separate car parking lot will be constructed on this land for the employees of the CAA, PIA and others which will accommodate over 300 vehicles.
He said some improvements had also been made in the existing parking lot which would now accommodate 650 vehicles. Previously, the parking lot had a space for only 250 cars.
The project director, retired Lt-Col Mohammad Sohail Miski, said since limited funds were available with the CAA and only Rs200 million had been released, the NLC had invested Rs100 million to ensure the completion of the project without any break.
The overhead high tension wires over the airport have also been removed and the old drainage and sewerage system replaced.
He said pavements had also been constructed and unnecessary poles removed.
He said after the recent terror incidents in Peshawar school and airport and the fog in Lahore, an additional 15-20 flights per day had been diverted to Islamabad, adding an extraordinary burden on the capital’s only airport.
The Islamabad airport was initially built as an Air Force facility decades ago and later part of it was turned into a commercial airport.
“More than 12,000 passengers use the airport each day. In addition, we get 35,000 to 45,000 visitors who come to see off or receive passengers,” he said. This load was more than that at Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore, the country’s second largest city.
“The load at the Islamabad airport is much more than Lahore. But facilities at this airport are not even one third of Lahore,” he noted.
Designed by a renowned Karachi-based architect Arshad Shahid Abdullah, a new fast-track building with three drop lanes is near completion at the airport.
Each lane will have the capacity of five cars at a time.
The new building will also accommodate offices of the CAA and some top food chain outlets.
Another official of the CAA said the international departure lounge was also being made more organised and the number of check-in counters was being raised from 20 to 25.
A number of toilets of international standard are also being built in the parking area and airport building.
Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2015