Allama Iqbal International Airport (AIIAP) (formerly known as Lahore International Airport) is the second largest, and third busiest, airport in Pakistan. The airport handles an average of 75–80 flights each day, but the number of flights increases during the Hajj season and the airport handles about four million passengers a year.
The completion of the new air terminal complex and its subsequent opening in March 2003 increased the capacity with the aim of accommodating up to 6.5 million passengers a year by 2015. The old terminal is now used to conduct flights to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrims during the Hajj.
The new terminal building has not only enlarged the airport, but has also added a meaning and history to the airport as the new terminal was built to reflect the Mughal history of Lahore. The airport was renamed Allama Iqbal International Airport after the national poet of Pakistan Mohammed Iqbal (the new terminal building was also named Allama Iqbal).
The airport has seven air bridges that dock onto the aircraft during departures and arrivals at the terminal and can provide 32 parking spaces for commercial and jet aircraft. There are three terminal buildings in the Allama Iqbal terminal complex, the old terminal (now used for the Hajj but also under negotiation for use as a low-cost airline terminal) and the cargo terminal.
There are two runways at AIIAP, these are paved in concrete and designated as 36R/18L: 3,310m long, 46m wide; 36L/18R: 2,900m long, 46m wide. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) number for each runway is as follows: runway 36R/18L concrete PCN 76/F/C/X/T and runway 36L/18R asphalt PCN 55/F/C/X/T.
The Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was the driving force behind the construction of the new passenger terminal complex. The project was carried out in anticipation of Lahore International Airport developing into a hub for international traffic, and also to cater to the needs of the population in the northern regions of the country.
A new private air carrier called Air Blue was launched in 2003 and this operates domestic and international flights out of Allama Iqbal and also Karachi. However as part of their charter from the CAA they have also been asked to run some less cost-effective socio-economic routes to improve transport links within the country (this is being done in conjunction with JS Air operating two Beechcraft 1900C aircraft with 19 seats each on these low-yield but highly necessary routes). The routes include some from Allama Iqbal to Nawabshah, Sukkur, Gwadar and Turbat.
The new passenger terminal complex as a project was designed to offer opportunities for business development. The CAA aimed to develop the airport into a world-class ‘mini city’, having all requisite facilities and infrastructure such as hotel, duty-free shops, shopping mall, trade / business centres, leisure centres, office complex, banks, restaurants, warehouse / cold-storage facilities, fuel / CNG stations and auto rentals.
For this purpose, CAA has allocated an area of approximately 180 acres outside the terminal building for potential investors and developers to take advantage of the business opportunities at the airport.
The development has been a success at the airport with the terminal boasting many duty-free shops, restaurants, cafes, ice-cream parlours, confectionery shops, book and toy shops, banks including: Askari Commercial Bank; Standard Chartered Bank; Union Bank and ABN AMRO Bank, and a souvenir shop.
The airport terminal also has a Commercial Important Person (CIP) lounge, which is only available to first-class and business-class passengers arriving at the airport. The CIP lounge was completed in March 2003 and has the expected refinements of television, newspapers, magazines, telephones, fax machines and free internet access and a restaurant / bar (although some passengers have said it is a little small). It can be accessed for the payment of $6 at check-in.
With Lahore becoming a regional aviation hub and with greater accessibility to northern districts due to the motorway, the cartage of goods to and from Lahore is likely to increase. The cargo complex is aimed at enhancing exports to contribute towards economic growth in the region.
The cargo business at the airport is thriving with transport exceeding 75,000t a year (2008 figures). The new cargo village was completed by late 2006. The cargo capacity of this facility, which will include all modern facilities such as cold storage and goods areas of various categories, is 60,000t a year.
Air Blue, a new private passenger carrier at the airport, has also launched an e-Cargo service to enable direct booking of freight services online to give more access to competitive prices and make the process easier.
The new terminal and related facilities were constructed on the opposite side of the airport perimeter to the existing terminal building.
The main element of the project was the new passenger terminal building – a five-level building of 80,000m² with separate departure and arrivals levels, seven passenger boarding bridges and a departure level approach bridge. There is also a taxiway with connectors of 135,000m². The construction of the new aircraft parking apron in concrete occupies an area of 95,000m² and the new car park can host up to 1,000 cars.
The construction of a fire, crash and rescue facility has significantly improved the safety standards of the site and brought a higher safety approval from the ICAO. The project also included the supply and installation of services such as climate control, passenger boarding bridges, lifts and escalators, security systems, check-in and baggage handling facilities and passenger information systems (Flight Information Display Systems [FIDS]).
The Airports Group was responsible for the electronic, electrical and electro-mechanical systems in the construction of the terminal building. The main systems to be installed were heating, ventilation, air conditioning, passenger boarding bridges, baggage handling, lifts and escalators, and FIDS.
The total contract value, including civil and building works, was estimated to be in the region of $200m.
For the terminal complex the CAA awarded the main contract to Airsys ATM, leader of a consortium with J&P Overseas Ltd, an international building and civil engineering contractor.
Airsys ATM is a joint project from Thomson-CSF Airsys and Siemens, dedicated to air traffic management systems and airport development. The Airports Group in the UK was also awarded a $70m contract for airport systems construction.
The project was implemented by a consortium of Joannou & Paraskevaides (J&P), responsible for civil and building works, and the Airports Group, responsible for the systems implementation. Airsys ATM and Thales ATM were responsible for the fabrication and installation of the air bridges at the new terminal.
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