|Muhammad Bin Qasim International Airport
|IATA: MUX – ICAO: OPMT
|Owner||Government of Pakistan|
|Operator||Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority|
|Elevation AMSL||400 ft / 122 m|
Muhammad Bin Qasim International Airport (IATA: MUX, ICAO: OPMT) is an airport situated 10 km away from the city centre of Multan in Punjab, Pakistan. It is not as large as the other airports in Pakistan, as it operates to cater mainly to the population of Multan, Vehari, Khanewal, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur, Sahiwal.
Muhammad Bin Qasim International Airport traces its origins to the British Empire, when the Royal Air Force used the open space to fly in and out of the Multan region during 1919. The area was used for aircraft that were able to land on gravel and grass surfaces, however, there was very little development to the area. In 1934, Imperial Airways started to use the airfield for civil aircraft flights since Multan was considered a strategic position in the Punjab province of India. It was not until 1938 that Imperial Airways started to operate a regular flight out of Multan. The flight would originate at Lahore, then fly into Multan, where it would continue its journey to Jacobabad and then Karachi.
Following independence, the airline Pak Air started operations from the airport and the Multan Flying Club was formed. Since the formation of the national carrier, Pakistan International Airlines, in 1957 PIA started operations from Multan using the Douglas DC-3 aircraft. In 1963, due to growth of the number of flights and larger aircraft requirements, the runway, taxi-ways and aprons where carpeted using bitumen. A new control tower was constructed to meet the technological changes of aircraft traffic control systems. In 1971, since PIA had acquired Boeing aircraft, the runway was extended to 9000' by 100' to handle heavier aircraft and more passengers. The terminal building was extended in 1977 which also saw the operations of Boeing 720 aircraft operations from Multan. In 1980–88, the runway was strengthened and re-carpeted for the arrival of Airbus aircraft, especially the Airbus A300.
During 1999, PIA as well as Aero Asia International gave Multan (MBQ) Airport an international status by operating flights to the Middle East such as Dubai and Kuwait. To cater for the Multani population living or travelling to more lucrative destinations, in 2005, the local government and the CAA decided to upgrade the airport terminal and airfield to meet international standards with emphasis on the runway, terminal building, facilities as well as apron areas. On 15 December 2006, Shaheen Air started four weekly flights from Karachi to Multan. Shaheen Air was the first airline in the private Muhammad Bin Qasim International Airport. The airport reported an operating profit of Rs 1 billion in 2007. The MBQ airport is being considered for Hajj and Umrah flights to Saudi Arabia which is expected to generate more revenue and growth of international routes out of Multan.
In the International Sector during 2011, from Multan PIA introduced weekly flights for Jeddah and Medina. Flydubai announced thrice a week flight service between Multan and Dubai with Boeing 737-800 from 14 March 2013 and became first foreign airline to operate regular scheduled passenger flights from this airport. Shaheen Air International started twice-a-week flight service for Multan – Dubai sector from 31 March 2013. Shaheen Air International announced two weekly flights between Multan and Medina from 1 June 2013. Pakistan International Airlines started two weekly direct flights for Jeddah & Medina from January 2014. Pakistan International Airlines announced weekly service for Multan – Sharjah sector from 30 March 2014.
In the Domestic Sector, Shaheen Air International restarted its daily operation from Karachi with Boeing 737 in February 2012 whereas Bhoja Air (now defunct) launched two weekly flights from Karachi with Boeing 737-200 for Multan in March 2012. Air Indus announced daily service for Multan – Karachi sector from 20 August 2013.
The MBQ Airport mainly caters to the population of Multan and the surrounding towns. It is made up of an international and domestic departures and arrivals area. The arrival lounge can handle up to 135 passengers. It is made up of a few snack shops with one moving conveyor belt system. The departure lounge can handle up to 300 passengers. It has a prayer room, washroom, as well as an allocated prayer area. The check-in area has roughly 50 counters and can handle two narrow body aircraft at one time. There is a CIP lounge to handle premium and VIP guests.
Multan's MBQ Airport's ILS/VOR/NDB equipped runway 36/18 (with dimensions 9900' X 100') is certified to accept all aircraft types up to Airbus A310. This certification includes length/width based certifications as well as the load classification number (LCN) certification for the runway. The taxiways and apron are fully certified to allow the A320 aircraft and, at times, have enabled the airport to be used as an alternate for Karachi or Lahore flights which operate the Airbus A320 aircraft. During the expansion project, the length and width of the runway will be enhanced to 10,500 feet and 150 feet.
The original upgrade plan was to build a brand new airport facility at a new location away from the original airport, however, due to the unavailability of land this proposal was dropped. The new proposal will involve upgrading the current MBQ airport with new terminals, taxi-ways and runways.
The CAA of Pakistan has earmarked on a Rs. 4.5 billion project to upgrade and improve Multan (MBQ) Airport. The plan is to expand the existing facility so that wide-bodied aircraft can land and take off for direct international passenger and cargo flights. The project is designed by Engineering Consultant Int.(Pvt.)Ltd., and the proposed improvements include extension of runway from 9,000 to 11,000 feet, increasing the width of runway to 150 feet with 25 feet shoulders on each side. Thus the runway will be upgraded to Category E (suitable for Boeing 747 aircraft). Other improvements will include expansion of terminal buildings. The first phase of the work was scheduled to start in spring 2008. The project consists of two phases. In the first phase, expansion of runway, taxi-way and apron will be carried out at an estimated cost of Rs 1.8 billion; the second phase includes construction of a new terminal building and allied facilities. The completion of the project will allow more frequent flights to international destinations as well as wide body aircraft to operate from the airport.
During 11 April 2009, the ground breaking ceremony was held. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, unveiled the plaque. The plan of the new state-of-the-art terminal facility was presented. It is expected to generate more domestic and international flights but, more importantly, cargo flights to expand the economy of the South Punjab region. The project was expected to reach the completion of Phase 1 by October 2010.
During June 2010, the Prime Minister of Pakistan performed the ground-breaking of a new passenger terminal at Multan (MBQ) airport.
The Rs 4.5 billion project's first phase, i.e., upgrading of the runway from 9,000 feet to 10,500 feet besides apron, was completed in 2012.
The modern passenger terminal and allied facilities are part of the phase two which is in the final stages as of May 2014 and is expected to start partial operations in June 2014 for Domestic and International flights. By October 2014, The new terminal building will become fully functional for both domestic and International flights.
|Pakistan International Airlines||Faisalabad, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta|
|Pakistan International Airlines||Dubai, Jeddah, Medina, Sharjah|
|Shaheen Air||Dubai, Medina|