By Muhammad Shafique Raja
ISLAMABAD, Apr 30 (APP):The new Islamabad International Airport (IIA), the first Greenfield Airport of Pakistan is set to emerge as one of Asia’s major aviation hubs and a destination in itself after its operationalization commences on Thursday
Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will inaugurate the airport on Tuesday before it becomes fully operational.
Equipped with cutting edge technologies and state-of-the-art facilities for passengers to meet the 21st century challenges, the IIA is also the largest airport of Pakistan. It is capable to serve nine million passengers and 50,000 metric tons cargo every year in its first phase, while the modular designs enables the expansion to serve up to 25 million passengers every year by 2025.
The airport project was conceived initially in 1984 for which acquisition of land in Fateh Jang started the same year to cater the problem of increased passenger load and space constraints at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport.
“The current annual turnover of passengers at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport is about 4.5 million. The number of passengers is growing by 14 per cent annually as compared to national air passenger growth rate of less than four per cent,” Deputy Director General of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Amir Mehboob told APP.
Constructed at a cost of over 100 billion rupees, the airport is connected to twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad via Kashmir Highway and Motorway via Thallian interchange. A four-lane highway has also been constructed by National Highway Authority (NHA) to cater cargo traffic. Amir said several tests and trials had been conducted to improve reliability and efficiency of systems at the airport.
Spanning over on 4238 acres of land, the airport consists of four-level passenger terminal building, two runways, taxiways, apron, parking bays for wide-body aircraft. It has an avant-garde cargo terminal, air traffic control complex, fuel farm as well as a fire crash and rescue facility. Being the first Greenfield airport of the country, a significant portion of land has been earmarked for the commercial purposes such as duty-free shops, five star hotel, convention centre, branded coffee shops, business centre, food courts, multifunctional shopping mall, theme park, cinemas, golf course and recreational facilities.
Equipped to handle all types of aircraft, including those of the new generation, it took around 11 years to build the airport after its groundbreaking in April 2007. Its 190,370 square metre four-level Passenger Terminal Building is specifically designed to facilitate passengers and stakeholders.
For catering water needs a 282-acre Ramma dam has been built inside the airport, while work on Kasana dam, spreading over 667 acres was in progress for future requirements.
The new airport had two runways – the one is primary, while the other is secondary. “We are in the process of acquiring 2,833 acres of land for future extension. In addition, the airport’s inside has facilities such as taxiways including six taxi links, three rapid taxi ways and five aprons, including cargo apron”, Amir Mehboob said.
“The new airport has an Integrated Building Management System, which has been designed to keep track and control various systems in Passenger Terminal Building. The Integrated Aircraft Stand System installed at the airport will allow airport operators to monitor the use of equipment and the apron from a single source,” he added.
The airport is equipped with fire alarm system, sprinkler system, total gas flooding system, smoke ventilation system, fire house cabinets and fire telephone systems. The baggage handling system installed at the airport is very advances with standard two and three screening machines, having the capacity to handle 5500 bags per hour in departure and 6000 bags per hour in arrival lounge.
The airport operations control centre at the IIA is an ultramodern command, coordination and control centre. “This centre focuses on end-to-end processes of operations and brings together three major operational areas for departing and arriving passengers, baggage and aircraft”, Amir said.
It merits a mention here that the IIA has a dedicated 114,234 square metre cargo handling shed, which will cater the national flag carrier and all other domestic and international airlines and all the other ground handling agencies. “The airport is equipped with latest airfield lighting system, latest aircraft landing
The CAA has also taken care of providing quick round-the-clock shuttle services to employees and passengers from different locations of twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
“A new bus service has been started by Islamabad Transport Authority (ITA) up-till the new airport as per the directions of Adviser to Prime Minister on Aviation, Sardar Mehtab Ahmed. The service is available for the employees of new airport at concessional rates” a spokesman of CAA informed.
He said general public could also use this service from Secretariat to the airport, connecting Metro Bus routes. “The construction work of 25.6-kilometre Peshawar Mor to New Islamabad Airport Metro Bus Service is going smoothly and it is expected that the project will be completed soon,” he added.
The project, having 12 bridges, 26 culverts and 11 underpasses will have nine bus stations including NHA Station, G-10 Station, NUST Station, G-1 Station, GT Road Station, Badana Kalan Station, M1-M2 Junction Station and Airport Station.
Similarly, transport authorities in Rawalpindi have also decided to start a shuttle service to ferry passengers to the new airport from two different locations in Rawalpindi – Rawat and Koral Chowk.
Rawalpindi Regional Transport Authority‘s (RTA) Secretary Khalid Yameen Satti said that the authority had decided to engage a private transport company, Faisal Movers to provide a quality, safe and comfortable transport to passengers.
Deputy Director General CAA is confident that the systems and services at the IIA will be helpful in meeting passengers, airlines and other stakeholders’ expectations. “The successful completion of the IIA reflects the ability of Pakistan CAA to build a world-class airport that has become the pride of the country. I’m sure the airport will become country’s hub that will boost business and activity in the region,” he added.