News Analysis |
The inauguration of the new Islamabad airport on April 20, has been delayed once again. According to the official statement from Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the airport will now be functional from May 03. Although the inauguration of the airport will take place on May 01, it will only be operational for flights from May 03.
After a long time period of 11-years, the inauguration of Pakistan’s biggest airport [in the country in terms of landing and passenger handling facilities] waited upon eagerly, but, aviation secretary initially, without clearly spelling out the reason for the postponement, confirmed that inauguration is postponed till May 01.
However, later, Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) deputy director general Aamir Mahboob told the group of journalists visiting the newly constructed airport that “earlier, plan was to start international flights operation at the new airport from April 20, however, the date was changed due to the ongoing final tests at the site.”
He explained that “we were ready to start the operations from April 20, but, to avoid any inconvenience to passengers, advisor of Prime Minister (PM) on Aviation and Federal Secretary Aviation directed us to re-check all the provided facilities and re-examine all the operational procedure being provided before the formal inauguration.”
CAA is determined to test the operational capabilities to ensure that efficiency of the system is on par with the international standards.
Prior to the proposed inauguration, reports emerged in the media pertaining to number f problem facing the new airport. A major water pipeline leakage and non-availability of gas were the main problems besides other minor concerns.
Aviation authority has also played down the rumors circulating that airport is facing the water shortages. DG Mahboob elaborated that a dam named-Ramma Dam measuring 282 acres, having a maximum water capacity of 4,890 currently has enough water to fulfill the requirements at the airport for one year.
Moreover, another dam with 700 acres capacity will be constructed to improve water supply.
So far, whopping Rs 105 billion is spent on the newly built airport. Delays in its construction have definitely increased the cost of the mega project.
Despite the claims of the official’s, reports suggest that airport is not ready yet. Some blocks of the airport for the airport security are yet to be completed and cleanliness issues remain a problem.
Despite the expenditure of huge amount, and long delays in its construction, kitchen for Pakistan International Airlines is not ready and there is no residential facility for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) staff.
The Airport Security Staff (ASF) blocks are not completed yet. Current facility can only accommodate 1,100 ASF personnel, against the full strength of 2,500 ASF personnel. In addition, there is no electricity in ASF basecamp and generators are used to run the residence.
Besides, mess, ladies hostel, admin and utility blocks are yet to be completed within the stipulated time.
Though, the premier is currently taking part in the meeting of Commonwealth head of states in the UK, but, it can only be cited as an excuse to cover-up the situation.
In fact, construction is not complete yet and the airport is not in a state to be fully operational. But, the government is going ahead with inauguration to claim that the project was completed in its tenure.