Allama Iqbal International Airport (IATA: LHE, ICAO: OPLA) is Pakistan’s second largest civil airport after Jinnah International Airport, [Karachi]. It is located in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan and is commonly known as Lahore International Airport. It is named after the poet-philosopher Allama Iqbal who was a major proponent for the foundation 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.
At independence, 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 inaugrated 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 40 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.
The airport underwent a major renovation during the early 21st century, which has not only enlarged the airport, but also beautified it with the building of new terminals built to reflect the Mughal history of the city. In fiscal year 2004-2005, over 3.0 million passengers used Allama Iqbal International Airport. 27,716 aircraft movements were registered.
The brand new terminal includes many duty-free shops including restaurants, cafés, ice-cream parlours, confectionery shops, book and toy shops and a souvenir shop. There are many flat screen televisions that show live flight times in the national languages, Urdu and English. The airport has seven air-bridges that dock onto the aircraft during departures and arrivals at the terminal. There are a total of 30 parking spaces. The airport can provide 32 parking spaces for commercial and jet aircraft.
Airport under construction in January, 2003.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.
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.
In Pakistan, the use of the CIP lounge is available to only first and business class passengers. In order to access the CIP lounge, passengers must be pre-issued a card from check-in. The cost is six US dollars per passenger to gain access. The CIP lounge has light savoury snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, satellite TV, audio entertainment, newspapers, magazines, telephones, fax facilities, and free wireless Internet.
Many banks have opened branches in the new airport including Askari Bank Ltd, Standard Chartered Bank, United Bank Ltd, and Royal Bank of Scotland [formerly ABN AMRO Bank]. Habib Bank and MCB Bank Ltd have recently introduced ATMs and foreign money exchange cashiers for passengers in the international sector.
Due to the increase in air travel from the airport, the CAA has decided to expand the current airport to meet future increases in air travel as well as ease congestion during peak times. On July 31, 2008 the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) awarded the expansion project to the National Engineering Services Pakistan Limited (NESPAK). The project will is estimated to be completed in two years. The project entails expansion of the immigration and custom hall, 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.
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