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Lahore’s Walton airport to be relocated to new site over safety issues

Punjab government has recommended the relocation of the Walton airport in Lahore to a suitable site due to potential safety issues following the planned establishment of a business hub at the site.

The development was made during a high-powered committee of the Punjab government chaired by the finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shiekh.

The meeting decided that the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) would take the leading role in coordinating with different stakeholders to thrash out various options for the establishment of an environment-friendly economic hub at the Walton airport site.

A committee comprising representatives from the Urban Unit, Infrastructure Development Authority Punjab (IDAP), Board of Revenue (BOR), Bank of Punjab (BOP) CAA, member Colonies, and the Lahore commissioner will be formed to submit proposals on the relocation plan.

The committee will also identify alternate land, look at the financial implications of relocation, discuss timelines with land swap options, and look at the required infrastructure, access road, airstrip, hangar, radar, etc.

The LDA vice-chairman informed the meeting that the current location of Walton airport poses a serious safety risk due to the densely populated residential and commercial areas surrounding it.

However, the LDA chairman stated that the Taavun project, with its proposed height limit of 500 ft, falls within the funnel area of the Walton airport due to which the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) cancelled the earlier NOC issued to the company.

The Taavun Private Limited is a joint venture of the Dhabi Group and Punjab government incorporated on Feb 12, 2006.

During the same meeting, it was also decided that the [CAA] will revoke the previously cancelled no-objection certificate (NOC) so that their business hub project could be revived on a fast track basis, official documents available with The News revealed.

Walton Airport’s illustrious history

Walton airport has a long and illustrious history. A group of philanthropist aviators founded the Punjab Flying Club in 1930, and later in 1932, named it the Northern Indian Flying Club.

It had taken 157.87 acres of land initially from the forest department in Village Rakh Kot Lakhpat and village Bhabara. 

Subsequently, the green airfield was converted into a concrete runway. The aerodrome was used in the Second World War by the army and for civilian aircraft as well.

At the time of partition, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah landed for the first time in the new state of Pakistan at this aerodrome in 1947. It remained under operation as a passenger airport until the early 1960s.

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