Cargo operation to start first at new Islamabad airport this year

ISLAMABAD : The government is mulling to start cargo operation first to pave the way for the launching of the New Islamabad International Airport (NIIA).

Soon after coming into power, the present government took up the challenge of the new airport despite all the discrepancies of the past. It has directed the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to speed up completion of civil, mechanical and electrical work of the airport this year.

Minister for Planning, development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal has already directed in a recently held high-level meeting to ensure provision of quality commercial activities in the new airport because commercial facilities have become critical at modern airports. He asked the authorities concerned to provide international standards shopping arcades, cafes and restaurants facilities in new airport to attract transit passengers. Provision of spacious space at immigration and check-in counters at the new airport would be ensured to cater to smooth passengers flow.

The relevant departments have been asked to give clear timelines for completion for these facilities. It has also been proposed to start a city shuttle service between the new airport and twin cities to cater to carry passengers.

According to a senior official of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), latest landing system will be installed to allow planes to land in harsh weather and dense fog. With the help of Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO), the NIIA has established its own grid station for power supply.

The airport consists of 90 check-in counters and a parking facility for 2,000 vehicles, car parking for 22,000 vehicles, a covered plaza area for 200 cars, a control tower, maintenance hangar, a 15-gate terminal with ten remote gates, a four star hotel, convention centre, duty free shops, food court, two runways, six taxiways, five aprons, 15 passenger boarding bridges, runway lightening system CATE-III, 150 KMT cargo handling facility and 42 immigration countries.

The plan to construct a new airport for Islamabad was conceived in late 1980s to deal with the problem of increased passenger load at Benazir Bhutto International Airport. The airport would create massive job opportunities and other commercial activities in the area.

The purpose of the new airport is to increase load sharing of international airlines, traffic flow towards Pakistan, import and export, business, tourism, and cargo operation.

The new airport will have the highest baggage security system in the country with five levels of security screening process for luggage. More than 10,000 plants donated by various organisations have been planted in the airport to make the atmosphere healthy and green. Launched in April 2007, it was supposed to be completed within 30 months costing Rs 31 billion. Later, PC-I of the project was revised in March 2012 at the cost of Rs 66 billion.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had once again revised its expenditures putting them at Rs 90 billion and October 2016 has been declared the anticipated completion date of the project.


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