Allama Iqbal International Airport IATA: LHE, ICAO: OPLA) is the second largest civilian airport by traffic in Pakistan, serving Lahore, capital of Punjab and second-largest city of Pakistan. It also serves a large portion of the travellers from the other regions of Punjab province. Originally known as Lahore International Airport, it was renamed after the poet philosopher Muhammad Iqbal, one of the pioneers that led to the creation of Pakistan. The airport has three terminals: the Allama Iqbal terminal, the Hajj terminal and a cargo terminal. The airport is about 15 km from the centre of the city.
At the time of the Independence of Pakistan, Walton Airport was the main airport of Lahore. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) acquired its first jet aircraft Boeing 720, Walton Airport was unable to handle the load of Boeing 720. The Government of Pakistan decided to build a brand new airport, which opened in 1962. The airport had a specifically built runway and apron to handle aircraft up to the Boeing 747. This opened Lahores gates to the world. PIA initiated direct flights to Dubai and London via Karachi.
Over the course of the next twenty-five years, the demand for air travel rose. The government had to build a bigger terminal to meet the growing needs of the region. In March 2003, a new terminal was inaugurated by President General Pervez Musharraf, originally commissioned by then ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The airport was named Allama Iqbal International Airport and became the second largest airport in Pakistan after the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi. All flights were switched to the new airport and the old airport was passed onto the military. However, the government later reclaimed the airport from the military and developed it into a Hajj terminal.
The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority awarded the main contract to Airsys ATM, leader of a consortium with J&P Overseas Ltd, an international building and civil engineering contractor. Airsys ATM is a joint project from Thomson-CSF Airsys and Siemens, dedicated to air traffic management systems and airport development. The Airports Group in the UK was also awarded a $70 million contract for airport systems construction. The project was implemented by a consortium of Joannou & Paraskevaides (J&P), responsible for civil and building works, and the Airports Group, responsible for the implementation of the system. Airsys ATM and Thales ATM were responsible for the fabrication and installation of the air bridges at the new terminal.
In 2008, the national flag carrier of the UAE, Etihad Airways, opened a dedicated aircraft line maintenance facility in Lahore. The facility is used for day-to-day technical line maintenance on Etihad aircraft, including hydraulic structural and instrument checks.
In October 2020, British Airways has resumed its direct flight operations to and from Lahore after 44 years.
Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) has planned the expansion of the terminal building and the number of gates will be increased from 7 to 22, with a corresponding increase in remote bays. This will increase the annual passenger capacity of Lahore Airport from 6 million to 20 million which will be sufficient to cater to the passenger load for the next 15 to 20 years.
The new design of the Lahore Airport Expansion Project has inspiration from the national flower of Pakistan, Jasmine or locally known as “Chambeli”. The airport will have 4 arms similar to 4 platters of Jasmine flower. The original building has Mughal architectural features but the new airport will have a blend of Spanish and Mughal Architecture.
Gates in the main terminal building will be increased from seven to twenty-two. The present terminal building will not be demolished but will be expanded. The current parking area will be converted to arrival and departure lounges. Square lawn in front of the airport will be converted to a round shape 3-storey car parking area. It will be ensured that car parking space is sufficient to serve in the peak hours.
The design of the airport was developed by GilBartolomé Architects[ from Spain, following a contract awarded to international Spanish Firm, TYSPA International, which firm also worked on expanding the Madrid and São Paulo Airports. A Chinese firm, the China Construction Third Engineering Bureau, has been awarded the contract, worth US$382 million (RMB 2.6 billion CNY), to carry out the construction work. During the expansion of the airport, nearby road networks will also be improved, which will help to ease traffic congestion on the roads leading to Lahore Airport.
LHE is fitted with all the essentials for domestic and international flights. The information below is correct as of September 2020.
Allama Iqbal International Airport connects Lahore with many cities worldwide (including domestic destinations) by both passenger and cargo flights.
Ras Al Khaimah
Abu Dhabi, Dubai–International, Jeddah, Karachi, Sharjah
China Southern Airlines
Baghdad, Najaf (Begins 16 July 2021)
Mashhad, Tehran–Imam Khomeini
Pakistan International Airlines
Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Baku, Beijing–Capital, Dammam, Doha, Dubai–International, Gilgit, Islamabad, Jeddah, Karachi, London–Heathrow, Manchester, Medina, Muscat, Quetta, Riyadh, Skardu, Toronto–Pearson
Riyadh, Jeddah, Medina
Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Bagram
Maximus Air Cargo
Abu Dhabi, Dubai–International
Abu Dhabi, Kabul
Qatar Airways Cargo
YTO Cargo Airlines Lanzhou