Islamabad: Pakistan’s biggest and first greenfield airport, Islamabad International Airport, was inaugurated on Tuesday by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, following years of delay, Gulf News reported. The flight operations at the airport, however, will commence on Thursday, replacing the old Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) in twin city Rawalpindi.
The new airport will facilitate 15 million passengers annually in the initial phase which would increase to 25 million after its expansion. Built at a cost of 100 billion Pakistani Rupees, the airport is 30km from Islamabad’s business center and boasts state-of-the-art equipment.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Abbasi said that the new airport reflects the economic development in the country in recent years. “The new Islamabad airport is located at the crossroad of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and it will open a new gateway for the country’s development” offering trade and employment opportunities to the people, he said.
“Shortly after its inauguration, the airport welcomed its first flight as a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-300 landed at the new airport at 11:15am.
Spanning over 4,238 acres of land, the new airport consists of two runways each 3.5km long, 28 aircraft parking aprons, 15 remote bays, a cargo apron for parking of three aircraft, main and emergency runways, taxiways, aircraft maintenance apron and parking bays for wide-body aircraft, Gulf News reported.
There would be 15 air-conditioned jetways out of which two have been specified for the wide-body aircraft A380. The current Islamabad airport had no boarding bridges and only a few immigration desks, which were insufficient for handling the influx of thousands of passengers.
The four-level terminal building also includes a cargo terminal, fuel farm, state-of-the-art firefighting station and rescue facilities.
The airport consists of 90 check-in counters and a parking facility for 2,000 vehicles. Around 1,200 Airport Security Force personnel are expected to be deployed at 85 security towers to ensure safety.
The airport would also comprise of a four-star transit hotel, duty-free shops, food court, a mini-cinema and children’s play area to help ease long layovers.