By Muhammad Shafique Raja

ISLAMABAD, May 6 (APP):The avant-garde facilities within a uniquely rich botanical environment at the new Islamabad International Airport (IIA) are leaving lasting impression on passengers, particularly those who were accustomed to take off or land at the old Benazir Bhutto International Airport.
At a time when airports around the world are providing easy, fast and hassle-free passenger navigation, this advanced airport driven by the objectives of operational efficiency and passenger well-being has started to bring an unprecedented level of passenger satisfaction right from the outset.
Many believe that with the ultramodern facilities and state-of-the-art technologies, the airport is comparable to any top-class international airport and set to join the world best airfields.
“This airport is absolutely stunning. It’s so scenic. We are travelling to London. It’s really exciting. People are very welcoming and the facilities are remarkable,” a Pakistan-origin British lady said while offering her and her family’s passports to the official of an airline at check-in before boarding the plane.
“This airport is a landmark achievement. It is a sign of progress in Pakistan. One gets great satisfaction after watching this airport. I’ve widely traveled around the world and whenever, I would see a top-class airport, I wished to have such in Pakistan. Finally, we have this beautiful airport. To be very honest we are really happy,” her husband Brigadier (R) Muhammad Yousaf remarked.
“We are really satisfied. The information booth is fully staffed, security guards (Airport Security Force personnel) are active at their positions, cleaners are busy scrubbing the beautiful floor and there is a large choice of products at the shops here. This airport is fully in service,” Nauman Khan said who was leaving for Bahrain.
“Really happy to see this airport. It’s marvelous. I am enjoying the remarkable facilities here,” Abdul Chughtai said, who was departing for Canada.
“I live in a big city in Canada. I keep on travelling frequently in different cities and have seen many airports. I tell you this airport is comparable to any other airport of the world,” he opined.
However, Chughtai underlined the need to have proper signs along the road to direct the people towards the airport.
“It seems good just like the world’s best airports. The arrangements are excellent and the staff is as cooperative as anywhere else in the world,” Arshad Mehmood said, who was leaving for Abu Dhabi.
“I have been living in the UAE for several years. The facilities here are comparable to the one we find in Abu Dhabi or any other airport. I congratulate all Pakistanis for having such an airport,” he added.
“Everything about this airport seems amazing. Not only it wins you over but it creates a lasting impression on you, prompting you to spend some more time here before you leave,” another Abu Dhabi-bound passenger remarked.
Equipped with cutting-edge technologies and ultramodern 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, while its modular designs enable 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 in the same year to cater to the problem of increased passengers’ load and space constraints at the old airport.
“By the grace of Allah Almighty, the state-of-the-art IIA has become fully operational. The flights are departing and arriving as per schedule,” Director General of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Usaid-ur-Rehman told APP.
He expressed the hope that the IIA will give boost to aviation industry in the country. He said keeping in view the modern technologies and facilities, the IIA is undoubtedly matching the world’s best airports.
“We have installed top of the line and latest system at the airport. Its passenger facilitation, baggage handling and traffic management matches international standards,” he added.
Deputy Director General of CAA, Amir Mehboob said the airport operations control centre focuses on end-to-end processes of operations and bringing together three major operational areas for departing and arriving passengers, baggage and aircraft. “I am sure it has all the potential to be among top 10 airports of the world,” he said.
Constructed at a cost of over 100 million 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 to cater to cargo traffic.
Spanning over 4,238 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 advanced 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. It has an Integrated Building Management System, which has been designed to keep track and control various systems in Passenger Terminal Building.
The airport is equipped with fire alarm, sprinkler, total gas flooding, smoke ventilation, fire house cabinets and fire telephone systems. The baggage handling system installed at the airport is very advanced with standard two and three screening machines, having the capacity to handle 5,500 bags per hour at departure and 6,000 bags per hour at arrival lounge.
As is often said the world’s top-airports reflect the quality of life their cities offer, so is the case with the IIA. The colourful flora, the water ponds and beautiful mountains are part of spectacular and breathtaking sight, which can be viewed from the Super View Corridor.
Moving through the airport complex also provides the passengers’ with glimpses of natural landscapes and highlands.
Undoubtedly, the IIA is a sign of development and progress in the country. But the airport management will have to keep this airport the same way. It would also have to ensure that quality and prompt services are provided to the passengers to bring it among the top ten airports of the world.