ISLAMABAD: The local business community has shown concerns over the long delay in the construction of New Islamabad International Airport.

 They  were speaking in a meeting at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday . They said that excessive delay in completion  of new airport was pushing up its cost,  causing unnecessary wastage of public money and hampering growth of trade and exports from this region.

They called upon the government to ensure early completion of this important project as a modern and state-of-the-art airport was badly needed in Islamabad to facilitate businessmen and investors in air travel as well as to encourage growth of business activities.

Atif Ikram Sheikh, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said long time ago, the Civil Aviation Authority had announced that New Islamabad International Airport would be operational by October 2016, but as per latest briefing by the Secretary Aviation Division to the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat, the NIIA will reportedly be completed by the end of the current year and its operation would take another six to eight months which reflected on the poor planning and execution of this project of high importance.

He said the foundation of New Islamabad International Airport was laid in 2004 and its construction work was started in 2008 at an initial estimated cost of Rs.37 billion and it was to be completed by 2013. However, despite the lapse of over a decade since its inauguration, it was still not clear when this project would be completed while its cost has also jumped to Rs.100 showing an increase of about 170% in its initial cost which was enough to prove how taxpayers money was being wasted carelessly.

He said the current operational airport in Islamabad was catering to about three million people annually while the volume of passengers was on the rise and there was a dire need for timely completion of NIIA to handle increasing number of air passengers. He said the new airport would play an important role in boosting business and investment activities in this region and stressed that government should accord high priority to its early completion as more delay would further enhance its cost, keep the air travelers including businessmen of this region deprived of modern air travel facilities and would be a an unnecessary drain on the national exchequer.