|Benazir Bhutto International Airport|
|Owner||Pakistan Air Force|
|Operator||Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority|
|Serves||Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan area|
|Opened||1930 as RAF Chaklala|
|Passenger services ceased||May 3, 2018|
|Elevation AMSL||508 m / 1,688 ft|
Benazir Bhutto International Airport (Urdu: ? ? , IATA: RWP, ICAO: OPRN) is a defunct airport which formerly served the Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan area. It was the second-largest airport by air traffic in Pakistan, until 3 May 2018 when it was replaced by the new Islamabad International Airport. Previously also known as the Islamabad International Airport, it was renamed after the late Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto in June 2008. The airport handled 4,767,860 passengers between 2015-16, compared to 3,803,060 in 2012-13.
The airport was located in the area of Chaklala in Rawalpindi, which neighbours Islamabad. Following the establishment of the new Islamabad International Airport, the airport is no longer used for civil aviation and now forms a part of the adjoining PAF Base Nur Khan (also known as PAF Base Chaklala).
In the fiscal year 2008-2009, over 3,136,664 passengers used the former Benazir Bhutto International Airport and 34,025 aircraft movements were registered. The airport served as a hub for the flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines. It was also the hub of Shaheen Air International and a focus city of airblue.
The government launched a Rs. 399 million project to renovate and expand the airport including the 518 by 23 m (1,700 by 75 ft) taxi way link adjacent to the lone runway of the airport. The renovation was completed by March, 2015.
The last flight to depart from this airport was PK791 operated by Pakistan International Airlines, heading for Birmingham, UK which departed at 11:39 AM PST marking the end of scheduled commercial flights to the airport.
A new airport was constructed in Fateh Jang, Attock District, approximately 20 km west of the twin cities. It was built to replace the existing Benazir Bhutto International Airport in response to increasing air traffic and passenger load. Once completed it was the first greenfield airport in Pakistan and the first to support the landing of Airbus A380. Build on an area of 3,289 acres, the project consisted of 90 check-in counters and a parking facility for 2,000 vehicles and will cater to upward of 10 million people every year in its first phase and up to 25 million in the second phase. The terminal includes 15 gates with ten remote gates, a four-star hotel, duty-free shops, two runways, six taxiways, food court and 42 immigration counters. The airport is connected to Islamabad via the Kashmir Highway and Rawalpindi via the GT Road. The Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metrobus is also being expanded to connect the airport with the metropolitan area. The airport was opened for commercial flight operations on 3 May, 2018.
Benazir Bhutto International Airport was a civil and military airport which handles VIPs as well as public scheduled operations for many airlines. Foreign diplomats, high level government officials, as well as military officials are welcomed at this airport.
The airport was only able to handle eleven wide body aircraft at one time, with additional five parking places for general aviation aircraft. It could not accommodate large aircraft such as the Airbus A380 or the Boeing 747-8. This airport does not have any air bridges installed, so buses took the passengers from the airport terminal to the aircraft where air stairs are used.
Since the airport was built on an airbase, the Pakistan Air Force has taken ownership of the apron and old terminal building of the airfield in a similar fashion to when Lahore's Allama Iqbal International Airport moved its terminals.
The runway is expected to remain in use by the PAF in the near future and VIPs and other dignitaries will continue to use the airbase instead of Islamabad International Airport.
General aviation by private companies is also expected to continue to use this airport instead of the new Islamabad International Airport.
Media related to Benazir Bhutto International Airport at Wikimedia Commons