A small yet significant news caught my attention the other day. On November 30, 2007, Sialkot International Airport got its inaugural commercial flight. Pakistan thus adds one more feather in its infrastructure development. The IATA designation of this airport is SKT. It is now the 45th public airport/air strip in Pakistan. There was an inaugural Boeing 737, PIA flight from Karachi the same day, which landed at Sialkot International Airport with 118 passengers. Currently the only flights available to and from Sialkot are from Karachi but very soon Sialkot will get direct overseas flights.
Sialkot International Airport has been built by the local business community on a â€œself-help basisâ€ at a cost of US $33 million. Sialkot is very fortunate in a sense that local business community plays a vital role in its development. To build, own and operate this airport a company was established in 2001. It is called the Sialkot International Airport Limited (SIAL).
SIAL is a company with 223 directors, each of which has invested Rs 5m of capital in the project as the primary investment. Each of the directors was invited to take part in the project because of their previous experience of running sizeable and successful enterprises.
In order to construct the new airport SIAL contracted NESPAK to develop the master plan and after much deliberation and consultation over two years a fully integrated plan was finalised and approved by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Sialkot International Airport is located 14 km west of Sialkot and is spread over an area of 1050 acres. It also has the longest commercial runway in Pakistan. The runway length is 3.6 km and width is 45m with 7.5m wide shoulders on either side. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has graded this runway as 4E.
The construction of the airport was approved in 2001, the construction work started in January 2003 and on March 26, 2005 the first ever plane landed here.
Following image shows convenient road distances from different cities which are projected to benefit from Sialkot International Airport.
10 km west of the airport flows river Chenab and currently there is a bridge called Shahbazpur Bridge under construction there. Once completed, the bridge will reduce the distance between the cities located at either side of the river. It will provide an easy access to the whole region including Sialkot International Airport, Sambrial Dry Port, Export Processing Zone Sialkot and the industries of Sialkot. It will help the airport to become a gateway for the people of Gujrat, Kharian, Lalamusa, Jhelum and Azad Kashmir. The work on this bridge started in 2005 and is expected to be ready in 2008.
Once the overseas flights start from Sialkot, it will become Pakistan’s 9th International airport. Current International Airports of Pakistan are:
1. Jinnah International Airport Karachi (KHI),
2. Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore (LHE),
3. Islamabad International Airport (ISB),
4. Peshawar International Airport (PEW),
5. Quetta International Airport (QET),
6. Shaikh Zayed International Airport Rahimyar Khan (RYK),
7. Gwadar International Airport (GWD), and
8. Turbat International Airport (TUK).