The greenfield airport for Islamabad is one of many important upgrade and expansion projects
Several airports in Pakistan are being upgraded to handle widebody aircraft with projects set for completion in 2018 at Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore, according to an official Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) document seen by Jane’s .
Runway improvements are essential if international services into Pakistan are to be upgraded. Upcoming PCAA projects include the upgrade of the main runway at Karachi and the secondary runway at Lahore, to enable ICAO Category 4F operations. Jane’s understands that a new control tower is planned for Karachi, and the PCAA intends to rehabilitate the main runways at Faisalabad and Lahore. Additionally, the main runway at Quetta will be upgraded to Category 4E standard.
Plans for Pakistani regional airports include expansion at Sukkur; a new greenfield airport for Mansehra; and upgrades at Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Muzaffarabad, and Rawalakot.
Islamabad to the fore
The flagship programme for the PCAA is arguably Islamabad International Airport, which is scheduled to begin operations in 2018 (construction began in 2008). Initially the airport will be able to handle up to 9 million passengers per annum and 150,000 tonnes of cargo, but its modular design includes provision for capacity growth to 25 million passengers.
The 1,331 ha greenfield site is located approximately 25 km southwest of Islamabad and 23 km from Saddar in Rawalpindi District. Two National Highway Authority roads are under construction to connect with existing motorways to shorten the driving distance between these cities. The new airport is further away from the centre of Islamabad than the existing Benazir Bhutto International Airport. This airport is small, congested, and surrounded by buildings, making expansion impossible.
“The new airport facility, which is the first greenfield airport in Pakistan, shall comprise a contemporary ... passenger terminal building, air traffic control tower, runway with a provision of a secondary/emergency runway, taxiways, aprons, and cargo complex, together with all the necessary infrastructure and ancillary facilities,” according to the PCAA document.