The expansion ongoing work on the Bacha Khan International airport (BKIA) has ended and it is expected that the upgraded facility would most probably be opened for the visitors on the 23rd of March—Pakistan Resolution Day. This airport is the only international airport in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.
The Bacha Khan International Airport which is situated in Peshawar has been under constant struggle since the 25th of June 2014, when a passenger of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) who was returning from Riyadh became the victim of a gun attack from militants in the compactly populated areas around the airport.
The militants opened the fire attack on the plane as soon as it came for landing at the airport hence resulting in killing a woman and injuring two crew members with bullet wounds—one of the crew members was then shifted to the hospital as was in critical condition.
Ever since this incident occurred, night operations at the airport have been adjourned which has badly affected the airlines and the passengers.
As per an official of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the airport was overburdened even though night operations were suspended because the facility had not been expanded for many years.
Additionally, many airlines shifted their international flights to the daytime slots, thus causing traffic increase in the daytime and making it harder for the authorities to manage the load.
A senior official of the CAA informed that international airline always wants to operate their flights according to their own schedule and this is what is the main trouble as it is difficult for the airport authorities to manage as they are already operating three international flights between 7 am and 9 am.
He further explained that it could be imagined the amount of crowd we have on the airport when international flights arrive, as we not only have to manage their luggage but also the traffic that comes to pick or drop at the facility.
The Civil Aviation Authority at the Bacha Khan International Airport operates more than thirty-five flights, which includes four local flights per day where the passengers from the K-P province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the provincially administered tribal areas either fly in or out.
According to an official of the CAA at BKIA rupees two billion expansion work is almost complete on the facility. This work began a year after the June 2014 incident. He further said that the airport is expected to be inaugurated later this month.
He informed that being the province’s only international facility, the federal government decided to expand it back in 2015. He said that construction work has been done on both the domestic and international lounges and three air bridges—from the lounges to the passenger planes. He added that it would take some time before the work at the car parking area of the airport is completed.
The multi-storey car park could take more than a year to complete. In the meantime, automobiles are being parked and accommodated in an empty space outside the airport.
Even though the expansion work is near completion, still authorities have been looking around for a “Green Field” space to make a completely new airport near the Badhber.
The CAA official informed that the construction work on a new facility is under consideration and space is being identified on the outskirts of Peshawar.
BKIA is the oldest airport facility in the country. It gained the international status back in 1965. The first extension work the facility went through was in 1986 for handling wide-body aircraft. In 2008, the decision to further expand the airport was taken.