ISLAMABAD: Despite non-availability of gas and some other issues beside a major water pipeline leakage, the New Islamabad International Airport is set to be operational on Friday, Secretary Aviation Sqn Ldr (R) Muhammad Irfan Elahi told The News on Monday.
A video showing huge inundated area of the airport went viral on social media on Monday night along with rumours that the inauguration of the airport has been cancelled. Aviation secretary confirmed that formal inauguration has been moved from April 23 to May 1 without clearly spelling out the reason for the postponement. However he insisted that airport would become functional on April 20 as per the original plan.
According to sources, the airport is not 100 percent ready to be operational owing to non-completion of some blocks for Airport Security Force, non-availability of fuel gas, and poor state of cleanliness. The airport cost has already crossed Rs81 billion. They added that ASF basecamp is not complete and only blocks have been prepared so far which can accommodate 1,100 ASF personnel while the actual required ASF strength is 2,500. Currently there is no electricity and potable water available at ASF basecamp and a generator is being used to run the electronic equipment, sources said.
There are no arrangements for the residences of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) staff. Kitchen for Pakistan International Airline is also not ready.
The cleanliness at the airport is also an issue and rubbish could be seen everywhere. Arrivals area could not be complete while a lot of work is still pending at domestic departure. Irfan Elahi admitted non-completion of ASF camp but said 1,200 ASF members will be using old barracks and total strength will reach 2,300. He said the non-availability of electricity is contractor’s fault so he is arranging power with generator until the electricity is provided in next a couple of days.
To a question, he said Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is constructing pens to station planes for wartime but he denied that any offices are being handed over to PAF at the new airport. According to sources, theGreenfield facility like the new airport is usually not used for dual purposes so initially there was no plan to accommodate PAF at the airport. But later the PAF facilities were also added.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who will inaugurate the airport on May 1 had earlier expressed displeasure over incompletion of some facilities at the airport during his visit last week.
Meanwhile, CAA also issued clarification referring to a news item telecast on various news channels regarding “Pipeline leakage in luggage area of New Islamabad International Airport”. “It is to further clarify that under the guidance and advice of Adviser to Prime Minister on Aviation and Secretary Aviation; the New Islamabad International Airport is going through several trial tests for the last 3 days. These trial tests include testing and inspection of various machineries and equipment. Contracted companies duly examined water pipes under full water pressure to avoid any inconvenience. During these test trials it was detected by the contracted companies that a pipe was leaking which was repaired in the shortest time. The leakage was minor and no damage to the facility is observed. The pipes as well as the equipment are all in good shape,” the press release reads.
It is further clarified that keeping its commitments as a priority PCAA has successfully handed over fully furnished ASF barracks to the ASF authorities with the capacity to accommodate 1,200 employee. It is worth mentioning here that various international food chains and their outlets will be operational shortly at New Islamabad International Airport which strengthens the commitment of PCAA to provide state of the art facilities to its passengers.