ISLAMABAD: The newly-renovated Benazir Bhutto International Airport was flooded on Saturday morning after heavy rains lashed the twin cities.
Rainwater had entered the main arrival and departure lounge, forcing the airport authorities to engage sanitary staff to pump out the water which also made its way into many offices on the ground floor.
Passengers had to wade through ankle-deep rainwater to enter the boarding lounge while struggling to wade out of the parking area which presented the look of a giant swimming pool.
The rain not only contributed to flight delays but also cancellation of several domestic and international flights.
The airport was recently inaugurated by the prime minister after the Civil Aviation Authority spent Rs400 million on its renovation with addition of a canopy, a parking area for 700 cars, 16 modern toilets and other expansion work.
An official of the Civil Aviation Authority overseeing the pumping activity told The Express Tribune the contractor has laid small pipes on the roof of the airport, causing choking of rainwater.
When asked what was causing the flooding and what measures were being taken to fix the problem, the official, who requested anonymity, said he could only say they were currently focusing to drain out the rainwater. The official said the contractor and his engineers have to be blamed for the flooding. According to the official, the heavy rain combined with poor drainage and low elevation of the airport led to the back flow of water towards the arrival lounge.
Owing to the flooding, services at the domestic arrivals were the most affected, which led the airport authorities to cancel many flights, causing inconvenience to passengers.
“This is the third consecutive day when flights for Gilgit have been cancelled and we are only told about the cancellation when we arrive at the airport,” said Komal Mirza, who was intending to travel to Gilgit, while leaving the airport.
Sami Ali, another passenger, who was also going to Gilgit, said the government should allow private operators to run the flights between Islamabad and Gilgit.
“It will only end the agony of passengers who face severe hardships due to the constant cancellation of flights to the mountainous region,” he said, adding that China should be allowed to operate flights from Islamabad to Gilgit.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2015.