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The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has acquired 3242 acres land at the cost of Rs 2.5 billion at Pind Ranjha near Fateh Jang, outside the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad for the construction of new Islamabad airport.

A CAA source told Business Recorder, the expected estimate of the project will be around Rs 15 billion. The plan to construct new airport in Islamabad was made in 1987 and land was acquired in two phases.

In the first phase, 23,506 kanals while in the second phase, another 2426 kanals of land was acquired. The source said the land was acquired in Rawalpindi and Attock districts.

"Preparations for the foundation stone laying ceremony have been completed but still no final date was given by President General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz," he said.

He said petty work on the site is in progress. Fencing was completed around the airport site, besides watchtowers, track around the fencing, tanks, etc. But, he added, construction work of the airport building, runway and other building structure was not started so far.

He declined to give any final date for the launch of the project nor did he reply about its completion time.

It may be recall the CAA is operating Islamabad international airport in the suburbs of Rawalpindi city for the last 54 years, which is also closet to the federal capital. The airport is now heavily congested in its technical facilities, terminal building, aprons, taxiways, etc, because of increased air traffic.

It is located in the midst of heavily built-up and densely populated region and is hemmed in for expansion, both physically and environmentally. It is an important gateway to Pakistan leading further to a number of destinations around, particularly to Central Asia and Western China, besides Northern Areas of Pakistan.

The airport handles around 25,000 commercial aircraft movements, 2.5 million passengers and 27,000 metric tons of cargo every year. The traffic had a stable growth rate in the past, which is now temporarily squeezed by security situation around Pakistan and limits of the capacities.

Annual revenues from this much traffic are around Rs 550 million with a local operating expenditure of approximately Rs 211 million. Therefore, the airport provides an operating surplus of approximately Rs 339 million. The operations will be shifted to the new location.

The CAA some 18 years back had decided to build a new airport at Pind Ranjha, outside the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi to shift its airport operations. The feasibility report of the project was prepared by M/s Aeroport de Paris of France. Master planning and detailed designing was done by M/s Flughafen-Aeir Consult (FAG) of Germany. All planning activity was supervised by M/s Bechtel Inc, of USA.

The airport would have facilities of a 4-star hotel, duty free shopping plaza, business centre, food courts, international convention centre, shopping plaza, cargo village and housing complex.

Offices for government agencies such as CAA, immigration, airport security force, customs, health, etc, will be provided by the company to facilitate their duties and operation at the airport.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2005

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