Allama Iqbal International Airport (IATA: LHE, ICAO: OPLA) (Punjabi, Urdu: علامہ اقبال بین الاقوامی ہوائی اڈا) is the second-largest civil airport in Pakistan, serving Lahore, the capital of the Punjab province. Previously known as the Lahore International Airport until the new terminal building was completed in 2003, it was renamed after Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal, the Islamic poet-philosopher who was a major advocate for the creation of the state of Pakistan.
The airport currently has three terminals; the Allama Iqbal terminal, the Hajj terminal, and a cargo terminal. The airport is located about 15 kilometres from the centre of the city.
On March 5, 2010 The Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan released a tender for the expansion of the airport, the number of check in desks will be doubled from 24 to 48 as will the number of immigration counters from 10 to 20. The terminal will also be expanded and the area which was strategically kept aside for future expansion when the airport was built will be fully utilised.
At the time of the creation of Pakistan, Walton Airport was the main airport of the city. When PIA acquired jet-engined airliners such as the Boeing 720s, Walton was unable to handle the large aircraft. This meant that the Government decided to build a brand new airport which was inaugurated in 1962. It was commonly known as the "Lahore International Airport" and was able to handle aircraft as large as the Boeing 747.
Over the course of the next 25 years the demand for air travel rose. It meant that the government decided to build a new world class airport to meet the growing needs for the future and improve the facilities for its passengers since the old airport was becoming obsolete. In 2003, "Allama Iqbal International Airport" was inaugrated and is now the second largest airport in Pakistan. All flights were switched to the new airport and the old airport was passed onto the military. However, during the Hajj period, the old airport is used as a Hajj Terminal by the national carrier, PIA.
Pakistan International Airlines is a major airline that flies out of Lahore as the flag carrier of Pakistan and uses the airport as a hub only second to Jinnah International Airport. There is an increasing demand from private Pakistani airlines and international airlines who operate out of Lahore for domestic and international operations. Many airlines are increasing their frequency out of Lahore since the new airport is able to cater to the growing needs of overseas and domestic passengers.
On the inaugration of Allama Iqbal International Airport in 2003, the old terminal was converted to handle the influx of passengers for the annual pilgrimage of Hajj to Saudi Arabia. The terminal is known as the Hajj terminal and is only operational when traffic at the new terminal becomes constrainted. It is currently used by the national flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines, however, negotiations are underway to allow private and international airlines to operate from the airport.
The brand new terminal includes many duty-free shops including restaurants, cafés, ice-cream parlours, confectionery shops, book and toy shops and souvenir shops. Nirala Sweets, a famous sweets shop, has also opened in the check-in halls at the airport. There are many flat screen televisions that show live flight times in the national languages, Urdu and official language, English. The airport has seven air-bridges that dock onto the aircraft during departures and arrivals. There are a total of 30 parking spaces. The airport can provide 32 parking spaces for commercial and jet aircraft.
A brand new runway was built during the construction of Allama Iqbal International. According to the CAA, Runway 36R/18L is 3,310 metres long, 46 metres wide whilst Runway 36L/18R is 2,900 metres long, 46 metres wide. Runway 1: Heading 18L/36R, 3 360m (11 023 ft), ICAO Cat. E, Aircraft size max: B747, ILS CAT II, Lighting: AFL System CAT-II available. Runway 2: Heading 18R/36L, 2 743m (8 999 ft), 55/F/C/X/T, ICAO Cat. D, Aircraft size max: A300, ILS CAT II, Lighting: SAL System available
In Pakistan, the use of the CIP lounge is available to only first and business class passengers. In order to enter the CIP lounge, passengers must be pre-issued an access card from check-in. The cost to gain access is USD 6 per passenger international or PKR 100 domestic. The CIP lounge has light savoury snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, specialty coffees/cappuccinos, satellite TV, audio entertainment, newspapers, magazines, telephones, fax facilities, and free wireless Internet.
The national flag carrier of the UAE, Etihad Airways, opened a dedicated aircraft line maintenance facility in Lahore. The facility is equipped with the latest technology and equipment, which will be used for all day-to-day technical line maintenance on Etihad aircraft including hydraulic structural and instrument checks.. Shaheen Air International also carries out some of its aircraft maintenance in Lahore; however most airlines still use Karachi or Islamabad for most of their maintenance checks so this facility is presently somewhat limited at Lahore, although this is slated to change with the airport expansion project.
Due to the increase in air travel from the airport, the CAA decided to expand the terminal to meet future growth in air travel as well as ease congestion during peak travel times. On 31 July 2008, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) awarded the expansion project to the National Engineering Services Pakistan Limited (NESPAK). The project is estimated to be completed in two years. The project entails expansion of the immigration and customs hall as well as the international and domestic departure & arrival halls. The number of check-in counters will be also be increased from 24 to 48 and the number of immigration counters will be increased from 10 to 20.
Airlines and destinations
The following table provides details of the major traffic flows out of Lahore interms of passenger numbers, aircraft movements, cargo as well as mail. The results were collected by the Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan:
Awards and recognitions
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The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2010.
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