LAHORE - The Allama Iqbal International Airport (AIIAP) extension project has been put on the backburner for months.

The AIIAP was inaugurated in 2003. After the passage of over 10 years, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) needed to extend its building.

The financial bid and the letter of acceptance (LOA) were awarded in March and April respectively in last year, while the CAA Planning and Development Section is yet to sign the contract agreement.

Sources in the CAA said the delay was not being caused due to insufficient funds as the project was being executed on a ‘self-sufficient basis’. The project was divided into three parts at the time of execution in 2016 – terminal building, car parking and access roads.

More than 90 percent work on car parking and access roads is completed, said an employee working on the site while a CAA officer said that these parts were at the finishing stages and equipments were being installed.

These near to completion two phases of the project do not cost more than Rs7 billion whereas a total cost of the project, what the CAA project office, says is not more than Rs42 billion while independent sources say that it will cost Rs74 billion.

First time the overall project was delayed due to the poor coordination between former federal and provincial governments when Punjab government refused to hand over its Parks and Horticulture Authority land to the CAA. It took six months to settle the issue and land was provided to the CAA.

Then a construction firm qualified the tenders and during technical evaluation it was dropped due to which the CAA had to recall its tenders. Now a Chinese firm, China Railways, has qualified for the work but due to delay in approval of contract agreement work on site could not be started.

An aviation officer said on the condition of anonymity that earlier air traffic was 13.5 million passengers per year but after this project traffic will boost to 25 million passengers per year. An aviation officer said on the condition of anonymity that earlier air traffic from airports of the country was 13.5 million passengers per year but after the project completion, the traffic will be 25 million passengers per year.

After the extension, there will be capacity of parking of 22 planes. Three-storey car parking would be equipped with latest parking management system with American cameras and software. The extension project also adds six new boarding bridges with latest technology.  During construction two current boarding bridges would be demolished while 6 new would be added and number would touch to 11.

When contacted, Project Director Maj (r) Azaz and Project Coordinator Ashraf Shad said all sort of information lies with the Planning and Development Section o in Islamabad.