PESHAWAR: As security agencies shared alerts of a possible militant attack on the Bacha Khan International Airport (BKIA) Peshawar, authorities at the facility refused to ‘facilitate’ diplomats from the United States.
While US diplomats do not use BKIA for travel purposes, sources within the Civil Aviation Authority (CCA) at BKIA said that diplomats stationed in Peshawar had visited the facility and requested ‘special facilitation’ for staff members in the executive lounge owing to the prevailing law and order situation.
Sources said that there used to be an executive lounge at the facility for passengers with access pass and for VIPs, but the lounge is expected to be removed as part of ongoing developmental work at the airport.
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“We were asked what could we do for them and our response was ‘sorry’,” a senior CAA official told The Express Tribune adding, “The diplomats were told they could use [seats in] offices until the departure and could then be escorted all the way to the passenger planes.”
The official, who refused to share identity since he was not entitled to speak to media, stated that the diplomats had visited the facility a month ago and planned another visit at the same time this month, but as far as the request for special treatment was concerned, the diplomats were refused.
CAA officials stated they had some rules for chartered planes as well, adding that different international organisations had been using the airport but no one had been offered special access to the executive lounge, and they all used the same lounges used by the general public.
A US Embassy spokesperson in Islamabad, meanwhile, refused to comment on the issue.
On the other hand, the Rs2 billion expansion work on BKIA — to expand the domestic and international lounges along with enhancing the capacity of the car park to accommodate over 700 vehicles — is expected to be completed by the end of April.
CAA officials stated that owing to the increase in the number of passengers, different international airlines wanted extra slots to operate from the facility.
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Some wanted to operate at night, but since night operations have been suspended at the facility after an aeroplane came under fire in June 2014 leaving one passenger dead, they were refused night operation.
CAA at BKIA operates over 35 flights, including four domestic, on a daily basis where passengers from across K-P and the federally administered tribal areas and the provincially administered tribal areas either fly in or out.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2018.