ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the under-construction new Islamabad Airport Thursday, directing the authorities concerned to speed up the work and also ordered inquiry into the undue delay in the project.

As per schedule, the new airport would be fully operational by October 2016, but the Prime Minister wanted to see it functional by March next year, he asked the officials of Civil Aviation Authority during the inspection of the project.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Shujahat Azeem were also present at the occasion. Secretary Aviation Division and DG CAA briefed the Prime Minister.

DG CAA Muhammad Yousaf briefed the Prime Minister that the project will be functional for national and international flights by October 2016.

Directing the CAA to complete the project ahead of the scheduled time by March 2015, the PM said, “I don’t want any further delays in completion of the project.” The Prime Minister directed to fast track the completion process with variations to be carried out simultaneously.

He said that the airport has to cater for future extensions and traffic hence the future needs should be kept in view in execution of the project.

The Prime Minister directed to install a dedicated power plant to ensure regular power supply to the airport. He also directed that latest package handling system should be installed at the airport. The PM said that in order to ensure water supply, water from small dams to be built by the Punjab government be provided to the airport.

The Prime Minister was told that the project was conceived in 1994 but the groundbreaking was done in 2007. He was informed that 98 per cent of civil works and 98 per cent of hydrant refueling systems is completed. He was told that 55 per cent of work on ATC has also been completed.

The Prime Minister inquired about reasons of delay and cost overruns and directed for investigation of the matter. He was told that the existing monitoring system has been strengthened.

Earlier, the PM visited different sections and areas of under-construction airport. He inspected runway, domestic and international, arrival and departure halls.

On the occasion, Premier Sharif was informed that the new airport would have the capacity to cater for 15 million passengers in a year. “It will have 15 boarding bridges and will be able to handle 400,000 metric tons of cargo,” he was further informed.