Pakistan’s Minister for Defence Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said that Islamabad International Airport, the country’s first greenfield airport, will be operational by the end of 2011.

In a written communication given to the National Assembly, the minister said that Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will complete this project on self-sustaining basis and has acquired 3,200 acres of land for the airport near Fatehjang, about 20km from Islamabad.

The CAA has acquired an additional 400 acres of land to build two 4,000ft runways to accommodate the largest and heaviest of aircraft.

Only one runway, however, will be used for operations and other runway will be reserved for emergencies, the Daily Times reports quoting official sources.

The first phase of the build includes the construction of taxiways, aprons and other airside infrastructure. The second phase involves building of parking lot for 2,000 vehicles, a covered parking plaza for 200 cars, a control tower, 42 immigration counters, nine baggage claim carousels and 12 X-ray machines among others.

In addition, it also entails a hotel, convention centre, duty-free shops, airside mall, business centre, food court, leisure facilities and banks, having 180,000m² of modular terminals building that initially would manage nine million passengers a year.

Due to political changes in the country the project which was expected to start in January 2005 but only began in April 2007 after the funding was made available for the project.

This project also eases the load on Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Airport in Chaklala by providing better access to destinations such as North West Frontier Province (NWFP), federally administered tribal areas (FATA) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

The new airport will also have a cargo complex capable of managing 100,000t of cargo 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.

The modular terminal building will use 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.

The airport will also have a linear pier on each side and a centre pier extending out to serve the boarding gates.