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Allama Iqbal International Airport is the second-largest airport in Pakistan located at Lahore, capital of the Punjab province. Previously, the airport was known as the Lahore International Airport. When the new terminal building was completed in 2003, it was renamed after Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal, acclaimed as the poet of east.

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. The airport currently handles an average 75n80 flights each day, but the number of flights increases during the Hajj season (the old terminal is now used to conduct flights to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrims during the Hajj). The airport handles about 13.58 million passengers a year.

On March 5 2010, 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 and 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 will be fully utilised.


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At the time of the creation of Pakistan, Walton Airport was the main airport of the city. When PIA acquired jet-engine airliners such as the Boeing 720s, Walton was unable to handle the large aircraft. Therefore, 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 and 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 inaugurated and is now the second largest airport in Pakistan. All flights were switched to the new airport and the old airport was passed on to 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 which 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.

The brand new terminal includes many duty-free shops including restaurants, cafEs, ice-cream parlours, confectionery shops, book and toy shops and souvenir shops. 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.


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 maintenances 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 traveling as well as to ease congestion during peak travel times. On 31 July 2008, the Civil Aviation Authority 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 and 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.
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Publication:Pakistan & Gulf Economist
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jun 27, 2010

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