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Chaos on ground grows with air traffic: Islamabad airport
 
ISLAMABAD: A plan to add a low-cost terminal at the existing Islamabad International Airport has been shelved after the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) objected to it.

PAF spokesman declined to comment on the issue but the Civil Aviation Authority chief Farooq Rehmatullah said it was CAA’s own decision to abandon the plan and instead concentrate on the new airport being constructed at Pind Ranjha near Fatehjang.

When the CAA approved the Rs400 million plan in January it was said an additional domestic terminal was needed at the existing airport to handle the growing air traffic until the new airport is ready in five years.

However the PAF, which shares the airport with the CAA, shot down the plan, saying the terminal proposed to be built next to the flying club would be closer to the runway than the National Airfield Clearance Policy permitted.

Some of PAF’s own installations at the Chaklala Airbase, particularly the aircraft pens, also are alleged to violate the policy.

Under the airfield clearance policy the terminal has to be some 750 feet from the edge of the runway. But, the proposed make-shift low cost terminal was planned to be constructed at some 680 feet from the runway.

“The new airport project is moving on fast track and we thought it would not be financially feasible to go ahead with the construction of low cost terminal,” the CAA chief explained.

If the CAA wanted to go ahead with the additional terminal plan, it would have got permission from the ministry of defence, he said.

Asked if that would have violated the National Airfield Clearance Policy, he said, the now abandoned project was strictly according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation specifications.

Commercial aviation circles say the present airport building cannot cope with the growing passenger load and is virtually bursting at the seams. The recent renovations have failed to ease the situation.

In a move to reduce the rush by other means, the CAA imposed a tax of Rs20 on visitors coming to receive or see off the passengers. That has added to its income but not reduced the congestion which is impeding the entire process of passenger handling.

Chaotic scenes have become a norm at the airport. Even concourse hall and car parking area are packed to capacity most of the day. For many the chaotic experience at the airport is nothing more than a nightmare.

Airport Security Force sources say they consider the congested airport a security risk.

Moreover, the departure lounge of the existing terminal barely manages to handle a single flight at a time.

The current annual turnover of passengers at the airport at Chaklala, constructed by modifying a 1948 airforce base hangar, is about 3.5 million.

It is estimated that the number of passengers at the airport is growing by 14 per cent annually, compared to the national air passenger growth rate of less than four per cent, turning it into one of the busiest airports in the country.

As many as 75 flights are handled at the airport daily.

30-08-2007 03:36 Bureau Report
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