SIALKOT & GWADAR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS
S.KAMAL HAYDER KAZMI,
Research Analyst, PAGE
Jan 30 - Feb 5, 2012
Sialkot International Airport (SIAL) is a unique project in private sector, may be first of its kind in South Asia.
SIAL has the distinctions of being the first privately-owned public airport in Pakistan and South Asia and of having the longest runway in the country. Approximately 1,000,000 travelers from Sialkot and adjacent areas are expected to benefit from this international airport each year.
Travelers by car from Sialkot reach the airport by travelling west on the Sialkot-Wazirabad duel carriageway, turning right at Sambrial to airport road and then go straight for 5 km to reach the airport. From Gujranwala, they take Sialkot road, up to Daska and then go to the Sambrial road. After reaching Sambrial, they turn right and go straight on the Sialkot-Wazirabad duel carriageway. After crossing the Sialkot dry port they turn left on the airport road. People coming from Gujranwala can also reach the airport through Wazirabad by using the Sialkot-Wazirabad duel carriageway. The airport can be reached from Sialkot up to Sambrial by bus.
It has been confirmed that the airport will be developed further, the apron will be extended to accommodate 12 aircrafts and jet bridges will be installed. The federal government promised the industrialists of Sialkot an international airport. Tired of foot-dragging, Sialkot's industrialists in the late 1980s agreed to build the airport themselves and sought the federal government's approval. During 2001, approval was granted after a decade of negotiations with the federal government, and construction of an international airport at Sialkot for passenger and cargo traffic began.
In 2001, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) with the approval of Ministry of Defense for the construction of an international airport in Sialkot.
In 2005, the first plane landed on the newly constructed runway, which has been built to handle a fully loaded Boeing 747, as plans involve dealing with heavy aircraft for cargo imports and exports.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) test flight PK-613 landed at the Sialkot International Airport in 2007.
The first and the largest international airport constructed by the private sector in Pakistan, at a cost of over Rs2.6 billion, became operational in 2007.
In SIAL, the domestic and international flights have already been started since 2007 and there are nine national and eight international flights operating on various sectors on weekly basis from the airport: two weekly flights for Kuwait, Muscat, Sharjah and the one weekly flight for Abu Dhabi. The cargo flights have also been started by Qatar, Etihad and British Airways (DHL) on weekly basis. Bonded trucking facility from the airport to Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar airport is already operational.
Gwadar International Airport is also a domestic and international airport situated 17 km north of the city centre of Gwadar, in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. Its runway length is 5000 feet. Apron has capacity of Maximum 04 aircrafts type ATRS/F27.
Refueling and night landing facilities are not available at the airport. ATC, fire services, NDB, standby generators are available for non-schedule flights 24 hrs. The town of Gwadar was purchased by government of Pakistan from sultan of Muscat in 1958. Air operations started in 1966. It is given international status when two weekly international flights from Karachi-Gwadar-Muscat were initiated. The terminal building was inaugurated in 1984 and the newly constructed departure/VIP lounges were inaugurated in 2008.
At Gwadar International Airport, departure lounge has capacity of 54 Pax whereas arrival lounge has capacity of 36 Pax. The seating capacity of VIP lounge is 20 persons. The custom, immigration, antinarcotics, health services are also available.
Gwadar is a large airport as it operates to cater mainly to the population of Gwadar. PIA is the main airline flying out of the airport. It connects Gwadar to Karachi, Turbat and Muscat. Other airlines in the past flown to Gwadar but these services were suspended later due to poor performance. This included Oman Air, which flew to Muscat using ATR 42 aircraft and Airblue which started twice daily flights to Karachi through its joint venture partner JS Air. The government of Pakistan anticipates Gwadar becoming a regional economic hub and in preparation for this has issued a directive for the development of the airport.
CAA has earmarked 3000 acres of land 26 km northeast of the existing airport. The new airport is expected to cost $250 million. It will be given international status and operate under the open skies policy. In the meantime, there are plans to improve the facilities at the existing airport to facilitate the movement of wide-bodied aircraft.
Due to law and order situation of the area and frequent interruption, extensions have been granted to the contractor. Consequently, the progress remained slow and the project schedule was affected adversely. Presently, only 27.73 per cent progress was achieved.
Gwadar International Airport, which was due to be completed by end of 2013, would now be completed by 2014.