The design of the new terminal building will be architecturally significant

New Islamabad International Airport will be the first Greenfield airport ever constructed in Pakistan and will be named after the assassinated ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (decided in June 2008 by current Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani).

The project was announced in January 2005 after a ten-year delay due to political changes in the country and construction began in April 2007, when funding became available.

"The new airport will eventually replace the overloaded Islamabad International Airport at Chaklala."

The new airport will eventually replace the overloaded Islamabad International Airport at Chaklala, providing better access for the northern areas, north-west frontier province, federally administered tribal areas, Azzad Jammu, Potohar and Kashmir.

The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) is the controlling body for the $400m (PKR37bn) project, which is likely to see the airport opening for operations in 2014.

The new 3,600-acre (13km²) airport site is situated on a plot of land acquired by the PCAA in the 1980s at Pind Ranjah near Fateh Jang (an additional 400 acres have been acquired to build the two runways).

The airport will be 20km from the centre of Islamabad and 23km from Rawalpindi, being well served by an excellent highway infrastructure.

The airport will be constructed in two phases. Phase one of the project, which included site preparation and other earth works, was completed in April 2008. About 20% of air side infrastructure work has been completed.

"The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) is the controlling body for the $400m (PKR37bn) project."

Ground is being levelled for the terminal building and allied facilities. The controlling body Civil Aviation Authority has apportioned contracts worth PKR14.224bn ($178.6m) for construction activities under the self-financed project. Of these, PKR11.825bn was allocated for air side infrastructure work.

Phase two of the project is underway. It will see car parking for 2,000 vehicles, a covered plaza area for 200 cars, a control tower, maintenance hangar, a 15-gate terminal with ten remote gates, 42 immigration counters, nine baggage claim carousels, 12 X-ray machines and also office and administration facilities.

There will also be a hotel, convention centre, duty-free shops, air side mall, business centre, food court, leisure facilities and banks at the new terminal. In March 2012, the first test flight to the airport was carried out to test the runways. The airport’s new terminal is expected to be operational by 2013.

General facilities at New Islamabad International Airport

The airport will have a 180,000m² modular terminal building which will initially be able to handle nine million passengers each year. The numbers are expected to reach 15 million by 2019 and increase to 25 million by 2024.

There will be two 4,000ft-long category-F runways (for largest heaviest aircraft) although initially only one will be used for operations and the other will be retained as an emergency runway.

There will also be a cargo complex capable of handling 80,000t a year, four rapid-exit taxiways, a special parking area for hijacked aircraft, apron parking sufficient for the contact stands, underground cable network, parking for ground handling vehicles, secure cargo areas and major airport road infrastructure.

Contractors involved with Pakistan’s airport development

The airport infrastructure was designed by ADPI (Aéroports de Paris ingénierie) along with Acorp, Mushtaq and Bilal Mahboob Associates. The terminal building was designed by CPG Corporation of Singapore in a joint venture with National Engineering Services Pakistan (design started in March 2006).

The project management consultants for the new airport are Louis Berger Group of the US along with ECIL (Engineering Consultants International) of Pakistan.

The first phase of the construction (air side infrastructure including runways) is being undertaken over a 24-month contract for PKR11.8bn by Lagan Construction of the Republic of Ireland (60% of the work) and their local partners Husnain Cotex (40% of the work). Husnain Cotex and IKAN have also formed a joint venture to carry out the preliminary works at the airport site including earthworks and construction of embankments for the runway and main access road to the site.

Benazir Bhutto terminal design

The design of the new terminal building will be an architecturally significant one for Pakistan, producing a national icon for the country. The design will also be sustainable and environmentally sound, with use of natural daylight for main lighting and sun shading to cut cooling costs, as well as an intelligent main roof (water conservation) and an elongated driveway length front portal (better views and more light).

The terminal will also make full use of traditional Islamic geometric patterns in its design. The modular terminal building will have a linear pier on each side and a centre pier extending out to serve the boarding gates.

The international and domestic halls will be located together under the main roof, which will be a simple trapezoid cantilevered from one of the two side piers with a cantilevered mesh screen trellis defining the exposed roof edge and attaching to a row of columns close to the ground.

Related content

Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore (LHE/OPLA), Pakistan

Allama Iqbal International Airport (AIIAP) (formerly known as Lahore International Airport) is the second largest, and third busiest, airport in Pakistan.

Multan International Airport, Pakistan

Multan International Airport is located at Multan in Punjab, Pakistan. It is being operated by Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan.