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With 'blast-proof' wall and new lounge, Islamabad Airport gets much-awaited upgrade

With 'blast-proof' wall and new lounge, Islamabad Airport gets much-awaited upgrade

ISLAMABAD: Nine months and Rs450 million later, Islamabad's Benazir Bhutto International Airport has got its much-awaited facelift which includes what officials say is a "blast-proof wall", revamped business lounge and a new taxiway link.

A key component of the project was the construction of a 1,700 feet x 75 feet taxiway link, adjacent to the lone runway which will help to save over Rs1 billion per annum by reducing waiting time for aircraft that are ready to land or take-off. It is estimate that the new feature will save Rs120 million per month for airlines.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) officials, a number of missing facilities have been added to the airport during the refurbishment process.

The Rawal Lounge has now been renamed Business Class Lounge and given a fresh look, while its old installations have been replaced with sleek, contemporary furniture for better utilisation of space. The lounge also has Wi-Fi access with high-speed internet.

Read: Islamabad airport worst in the world: survey

The concourse hall, where airline offices and food stalls left little space for passengers and those who came to see-off or receive them, has now been cleared of stalls and all airline offices have been centralised.

A blast-proof concrete wall has been built in front of the main terminal to separate it from the car park to make the airport more secure, while a 'fast-track section' has been constructed near the outer gate to allow passengers with light baggage to enter and leave the airport without hassle.

A separate car park for the the CAA, airport and other employees working on the airport premises has also been built on a piece of land acquired on lease from the military.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the upgraded facilities at Benazir Bhutto International Airport in the federal capital city on Monday (today).

Although the inauguration of the new facilities took place today, a new airport in the capital is due to be opened to the public next year.

Also read: New Islamabad airport to be operational in 2016, NA body told

Earlier in March, the Aviation Division informed the National Assembly standing committee on planning, development and reforms that 80 per cent work on the New Islamabad Airport is complete and the facility would be operational in the last quarter of 2016.

Secretary Aviation Division Mohammad Ali Gardezi told the committee that the cost of the project had increased from Rs37 billion to Rs81 billion.

It might go up further due to the devaluation of the rupee and the price hikes, he had said. Rs40 billion had already been spent on the project till March, he had further said.

A senior official of the CAA told that the existing airport will be used by VVIP and domestic flights and the Pakistan Air Force while the new airport will be reserved for general public.

Read more: Islamabad airport all set for a makeover

Last year, a survey conducted by "The Guide to Sleeping in Airports" website shows Islamabad's Benazir Bhutto International Airport as the world's worst airport.

The survey also added that the airport, often "likened to a central prison", can be aggressive yet inconsistent in its security checks and crowd control is often minimal if not entirely absent.

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