ISLAMABAD: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is planning to acquire over 2,800 acres of additional land to build a third runway at the Islamabad International Airport scheduled to be operational by Aug 14 this year.
According to a document available with Dawn, the CAA will have to acquire 2,833 acres to build a third runway, the proposed land for which lies in the existing locality of Pind Ranjha.
It was learned that there had been resistance within the authority regarding the proposed site as some CAA officials believed that the third runway should run parallel to the other two runways which have already been built.
They were of the view that the proposed site would not be feasible and that the CAA would have to bear the additional cost of a new air traffic control tower and other infrastructure for air traffic on the third runway. These facilities were available on the other side of the terminal where the other two runways have been constructed.
The third runway would be beyond the airport terminal as well as the public car parking area and could, therefore, turn into a security risk, they feared.
The document said that the CAA had already acquired 3,571.5 acres of land for the airport and it was believed that this would cater to future requirements for at least 25 years.
When contacted, the CAA spokesman Amir Mehboob said the authority was sticking to its commitment of making the new airport functional by Aug 14 this year, while work on third runway may continue. “The construction of a third runway does not mean that the project will be delayed,” he added.
He said he had held a meeting with representatives of local and international airlines and goods handling companies at the site of the new airport on Friday to finalise the plan regarding its operations.
Responding to concerns over the proposed site of the third runway, he said he was not technically equipped to comment on the issue.
A senior CAA official requesting anonymity told Dawn that the third runway would be built beyond the airport terminal due to technical reasons. Its construction would be complete in a few years.
He said one of the reasons the site was proposed beyond the airport building was that a distance of at least one-and-a-half km had been ensured between two runways to meet the international standard. However, he did not answer why the existing two runways had been constructed at a distance of less than 200 yards.
To concerns regarding security threats, he said the site of the third runway was proposed close to the existing car parking area for the convenience of passengers. “We have also issued directives through our offices concerned regarding restrictions on any sort of construction beyond the third runway,” he added.
He said one of the reasons why the new runway would not be parallel to the existing runways was that the CAA did not own land on that side and in case of new land acquisition, the authority would have to purchase more land in that area as compared to the proposed site.