Five men, including three Chinese nationals, were arrested and a drone camera — which they were allegedly using to make videos of the newly constructed Islamabad airport — was shot down on Wednesday, sources within the Airport Security Force (ASF) said.
The ASF sources further said the arrested men were workers of a Chinese company involved in the construction of the airport and they were making the drone footage without permission.
The drone, destroyed as a result of firing, was also taken into custody by the ASF officials.
On the other hand, other media reports claimed that the arrested men had taken permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to use the drone to make videos before the ASF took charge of the airport’s security and the force was not aware of it when the drone was shot down. The employer of the arrested individuals has claimed that the video was to be used as proof of the work completed by them.
Following a number of controversies and delays, the new airport — built on the outskirts of federal capital — is now set to begin flight operations on May 3. The first test flight had landed at the airport earlier this month.
In its initial phase, the airport will be capable of handling nine million passengers and 50,000 tons of cargo every year. After its expansion, it would be able to serve up to 25m passengers a year by 2025, authorities say.
The new facility will replace cramped Benazir Bhutto International Airport, voted the worst airport in the world in 2014 by the “Guide to Sleeping in Airports” website.
“It has been decided that the operational date of the airport will be May 3 … not April 20, as originally announced,” said Nadir Shafi Dar, director of planning and development for the Civil Aviation Authority.
The new airport will have runways capable of handling larger A380 jets that are now unable to land in the capital. It will also have 15 air bridges to allow boarding directly from the terminal, instead passengers riding buses to all planes.