Pakistan PM inaugurates long-delayed new airport in capital Islamabad

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India May 01, 2018, 06.52 PM(IST)

A general view of the check-in area during a media tour of the newly built Islamabad International Airport Terminal. Photograph:( Reuters )

Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Abbasi on Tuesday inaugurated the long-delayed new airport in Islamabad in place of Benazir Bhutto airport.

Islamabad International Airport (IIA), which has been inaugurated after years of delay,  is the first greenfield airport of Pakistan which plans to emerge as one of Asia's major aviation hubs. 

With a sleek glass-front entrance, spacious check-in areas and jetway bridges for boarding, the Y-shaped airport promise an end to the congestion that has frustrated air travel in the past.

"This airport rightly reflects what has happened in Pakistan in the last five years," said Abbasi.

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight, PK-300, landed at the airport as part of its inauguration ceremony. A video shared by PIA on its official Twitter account, showed the pilot waving the country’s flag from the cockpit window.

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The new airport is capable of serving nine million passengers and 50,000 metric tonnes of cargo per year and plans to expand its target servicing to about 25 million passengers by 2025.

Abbasi's government is spending billions of dollars on upgrading Pakistan's transport infrastructure and ending energy blackouts, with freshly paved motorways as well as dams and power plants popping up across the country.

Abbasi, who has a pilot's license and is a founder of a Pakistani budget airline, said new airports in the cities of Multan, Faisalabad, Quetta and Peshawar were in the final stages.

"Nothing is impossible but this project definitely seemed impossible," quipped Abbasi, in reference to his government inheriting the project in 2013.

The new airport is about 15 km (nine miles) from the capital. Benazir Bhutto airport was in the nearby city of Rawalpindi and attached to a military base.