Pakistani Airport Security Force (ASF) officers keep watch at the new Islamabad International Airport. Image Credit: AFP

Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, inaugurated the new Islamabad International Airport (IIA) on Tuesday, May 1.

Commercial flight services from the much-anticipated addition to the city will begin on Thursday, May 3.

The launch of operations means a move for all commercial and VIP flights from the hereto used Benazir Bhutto International Airport to IIA’s runways.

While the airport was to open its doors on April 20, it was delayed due to technical and security glitches.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Abbasi led the opening ceremony of the new, RS100-billion airport on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. - PTV

Pakistan daily Dawn reports that’s the country’s national flag carrier’s PK-300 flight will take off from Jinnah International Airport, in Karachi, and land at IIA at about 11am.

An hour-and-a-half later, the PK-301 will fly out from the new base and head to the Karachi airport.

25m passengers

The new airport is capable of serving nine million passengers and 50,000 metric tonnes of cargo annually; expansion plans target servicing about 25 million passengers by 2025.

A passenger lounge inside the airport. - PTV

“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,” Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Deputy Director General Amir Mehboob was quoted by the Tribute as saying.

The airport comes with a bill of more than Rs100 billion ($861.5m; or Dh3.15 billion), and is connected to both Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

The airport’s 4 levels

Level 1 - international and domestic passengers’ arrival area, baggage collection and airline offices.

Level 2 - domestic arrivals and departure lounges, visitors’ gallery and immigration counters.

Level 3 - international and domestic check-ins and international departure.

Level 4 - state lounges and commercially important persons lounges

Design and architecture

The airport has contemporary design inspired by traditional Islamic geometric patterns. Environmentally-sustainable design strategies have been employed with the use of day light and sun shading to reduce energy use.

The interior texture of granite flooring has been used to ensure dust-free air quality.

The new airport is expected to be boon for both airlines and passengers and help lessen the bottlenecks in commercial aviation in the Pakistani capital.

Around 1,200 Airport Security Force deployed at 85 security towers to ensure safety at the airport with advanced security management systems and two bomb pit facilities.

Tourism

With the launch of new airport, Pakistan is all set to welcome foreign tourists who primarily come to visit the scenic northern areas or to participate in religious festivals.

Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) has announced to establish a modern Tourist Information Centre at the new airport, said PTDC managing director Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor Khan.

Pakistan is not only rich in Islamic heritage but also a gateway to sacred sites for other religions especially Buddhists and Sikhs. 

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Many holy sites for Sikhs such as the birthplace of the founder of Sikh religion in Nankana Saheb district, and Gurdwara (monastery) Punja sahib are in Pakistan.

Similarly, the monastery Takht-i-Bhai (Throne of Origins) and the 3,000-year-old Taxila of the Gandhara Valley Civilisation are revered sites for Buddhists and attract pilgrims from China, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and Sri Lanka.

A Pakistani man is being searched by airport police at the newly built Islamabad International Airport. - AFP


Facilities

2 runways, each 3.5-km long
90 check-in counters 

28-aircraft parking apron
15 air-conditioned jetties (passenger boarding bridges)
2 jetties for Airbus A380 
15 remote bays
Cargo apron for parking of 3 aircraft
Main and emergency runways
Taxiways
Aircraft maintenance apron
Four-level terminal building
Parking facility for 2,000 vehicles 
9 exit and entry gates
28 escalators
six service lifts
24 elevators
4 inclined travellators (moving walkways)
10 horizontal travellators (moving walkways)
5 luggage conveyor belts
15 bays with separate waiting lounges
Device charging stations
Fingerprint recognition systems
Four-star transit hotel
Convention centre
Duty-free shops
Food court
A mini-cinema
Children’s play area
Cargo terminal
Fuel farm
Air traffic control complex
Fire station rescue facilities
18 water tube-wells
3 water dams 

Operators at new airport

Pakistani Airlines

PIA 
Shaheen Air
Air Blue 
Serene Air 

International Airlines

Air Arabia
Air China
China Southern
Emirates
Etihad
Gulf Air
Kuwait Airways
Oman Air
Safi Airways
Saudia
Thai Airways 
Turkish Airlines 
Others