Benazir Bhutto International Airport

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Benazir Bhutto International Airport
Islamabad International Airport
عبدالستار ایدھی بین الاقوامی ہوائی آڈا
Benazir Intl Islamabad.jpg
Airport type Public / Military
Operator Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan
Serves Islamabad and Rawalpindi
Location Rawalpindi
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 1,688 ft / 508 m
Coordinates 33°36′59″N 073°05′57″E / 33.61639°N 73.09917°E / 33.61639; 73.09917Coordinates: 33°36′59″N 073°05′57″E / 33.61639°N 73.09917°E / 33.61639; 73.09917
ISB is located in Pakistan
Location of airport in Pakistan
Direction Length Surface
m ft
12/30 3,287 10,785 Asphalt
Statistics (2014)
Passengers 4,441,426 [1]

Benazir Bhutto International Airport (Urdu: بینظیر بھٹو بین الاقوامی ہوائی اڈا‎, IATA: ISBICAO: OPRN) is the third-largest airport in Pakistan, serving the capital Islamabad and its twin city Rawalpindi in the province of Punjab. Previously known as the Islamabad International Airport, it was renamed after the late Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yusuf Raza Gillani on 21 June 2008.[2]

The airport is actually located outside Islamabad, in the area of Chaklala, Rawalpindi. Being the main airport for the Pakistani capital it often hosts officials and citizens from other nations. The airfield is shared with the transport and liaison squadrons of the Pakistan Air Force, which refers to it as PAF Base Nur Khan.

In the fiscal year 2008–2009, over 3,136,664 passengers used Benazir Bhutto International Airport and 34,025 aircraft movements were registered.[3] The airport serves as a hub for the flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines. It is also the hub of Shaheen Air International and a focus city of airblue.

The government recently launched a Rs. 399 million project to renovate and expand the airport including the 1700 X 75 feet taxi way link adjacent to the lone runway of the airport.[4] The renovation was completed by March, 2015.[5]

Due to the ever-growing need for better facilities and services available for passengers, The Government of Pakistan is constructing a new airport in Islamabad. The new green field facility will be the biggest in Pakistan. The new location of the Islamabad International Airport has been selected at Fateh Jang, 30 km southwest of Islamabad city centre (Blue Area), as measured from Zero Point. The construction of the new airport is underway and completion is estimated to be in July 2017.[6]


Benazir Bhutto International Airport is 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 Rawal Lounge has been designated for use of these high profile personalities.[7]

There are separate lounges for international and domestic economy passengers. The domestic and international lounges have been provided with facilities that include wifi Internet, snack bars/light refreshments, satellite plasma TVs, telephone and fax facilities, and a global selection of newspapers/magazines.

There are also lounges for transit passengers who may be travelling further internationally or domestically and they also have designated prayer areas. The CIP lounge can be used by first and business class passengers travelling on international or domestic flights. Passengers have to be issued an airline card from the check-in staff.

Currently, the airport is able to handle eleven wide body aircraft at one time, with additional five parking places for general aviation aircraft. It does not have the capacity for take off and landing of such aircraft as Airbus A380 or Boeing 747-8.

At the moment, the airport does not have any air bridges installed, so buses take the passengers from the airport terminal to the aircraft where air stairs are used.

The airport has a wide variety of duty-free shops, restaurants, wifi Internet services and souvenir arts and crafts shops. There are numerous television monitors and mobile connecting points in the terminal to allow passengers to check flight times and recharge their phones.

There are a string of financial exchange counters and commercial banks such as National Bank of Pakistan, Habib Bank Ltd and MCB Bank Ltd. MCB, Barclays, Citibank and Habib Bank have also launched ATMs that are linked to various global networks.

To meet safety and health issues, the airport has also opened "Smoke Zones" within the lounge facilities for those who smoke.

Due to the commitment of the government to upgrade the current security infrastructure of the airports across Pakistan, new state of the art luggage scanning machines were introduced. These machines provide high performance, and have a very low cost when it comes to maintenance, thus integrating a highly effective and practical security solution for the airport.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

A Safi Airways Airbus A320 departs Benazir Bhutto International Airport
China Southern Airlines Airbus A330-243
Air China Airbus A330-200 departure islamabad airport


Airlines Destinations
Air Arabia Ras al-Khaimah
Air China Beijing–Capital[8]1
Airblue Abu Dhabi, Dubai–International, Karachi, Multan, Rahim Yar Khan, Sharjah
China Southern Airlines Ürümqi
Emirates Dubai–International
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
Gulf Air Bahrain
Kuwait Airways Kuwait
Oman Air Muscat
Pakistan International Airlines Abu Dhabi, Bahawalpur, Beijing–Capital, Birmingham, Chitral, Copenhagen, Dammam, Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan, Doha, Dubai–International, Gilgit, Jeddah, Kabul, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur–International,[9] Kuwait, Lahore, London–Heathrow, Manchester, Milan–Malpensa, Multan, Muscat, Nawabshah, Oslo, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Peshawar, Quetta, Rahim Yar Khan, Riyadh, Sharjah, Sialkot, Skardu, Sukkur, Tokyo–Narita, Toronto–Pearson, Zhob
Princely Jets Charter: Dubai–International, Jeddah, Karachi
Qatar Airways Doha
Rayyan Air
operated by Pakistan International Airlines
Charter: Kashgar
Safi Airways Kabul
Saudia Dammam, Jeddah, Riyadh
Shaheen Air Abu Dhabi, Dammam, Dubai–International, Karachi, Manchester,[10] Riyadh
Thai Airways International Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi
Turkish Airlines Baku, Istanbul–Atatürk

*Notes: 1: Air China's flight from Islamabad to Beijing continues on to Karachi. However, Air China does not have eighth freedom rights to carry passengers solely from Islamabad to Karachi.


Airlines Destinations
TCS Courier Dubai–International, Karachi, Lahore, London–Heathrow
Turkish Airlines Cargo Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi, Bishkek, Istanbul–Atatürk

Accidents and incidents[edit]

The US Air Force was a regular visitor to the airport, providing relief goods for the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, photographed 2005
An Air Blue Airbus A321. This aircraft is similar to the one involved in Airblue Flight 202 air crash.
  • On 1 August 1948, an Onzeair Avro 691 Lancastrian XPP crash landed at the airport, due to poor adjustment by the foreign pilot and insecure cargo loads in the cabin causing the weight to alter causing the aircraft to become unbalanced. The aircraft was written off.
  • On 18 May 1959, a PIA Vickers 815 Viscount skidded off the runway causing the aircraft to stop in a monsoon ditch. The aircraft suffered substantial damage; no crew or passengers were harmed in the accident.
  • On 4 February 1986, a Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 747-200 Combi performed a belly landing at the airport. Apparently the crew had failed to release the landing gear on final approach. No passengers or crew were hurt and the aircraft received minor damage.
  • On 15 February 2002, Erik Audé was arrested at Benazir Bhutto International Airport (then named Islamabad International Airport) for opium possession.
  • During October 2005, Islamabad handled additional aircraft that provided aid for the affected people of Kashmir after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. The largest of these aircraft was the An-225 Mriya. Virgin Atlantic Airways operated a special relief flight to Islamabad using a Boeing 747 with 55 tonnes of aid.[11]
  • On 28 July 2010, Airblue Flight 202, a domestic flight from Karachi operated by Airbus A321 AP-BJB, crashed into the Margalla Hills in Islamabad while trying to land at the airport. The aircraft crashed into mountainous and wooded terrain near the city, killing all 152 people on board.
  • From 8 to 11 February 2011, there was a workers' strike at the airport against the selling of destinations to Turkish Airlines and the sacking of six Pakistan International Airlines pilots. This led to the resignation of the managing director of PIA Capt.Aijaz Haroon and caused the cancelling of many flights.
  • On 20 April 2012, a Boeing 737-200 (AP-BKC), Bhoja Air Flight 213 carrying 127 people on a flight from Karachi's Jinnah International Airport destined for Islamabad's Benazir Bhutto International Airport crashed near Chaklala killing all 127 people on board. Pakistani Defence Ministry officials believe that the plane crashed into a remote residential area. There were also bad weather conditions, with lightning and rain pouring at the time of landing. Eye-witness reports say that the aircraft was already on fire on its landing approach before it crashed. Initial reports suggest that as the pilots of Bhoja Air Flight B4-213 attempted to land amidst rain and strong winds, the ill-fated aircraft might have flown into an unexpected wind shear that possibly smashed it on the ground below. The aircraft had been retired by Shaheen Air and then acquired and placed in service by Bhoja Air in March 2012.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Benazir Bhutto International Airport at Wikimedia Commons

Pakistan needs to work on really closely on where they put airports in Islamabad