Flights from a new Airport in the Pakistani Capital Islamabad began on Thursday, decades after the project was first conceived in the 1980s.
“We are operating from the new airport today and it is a great facility,’’ Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson, Pervez George, told dpa.
The first international flight took off for the Saudi city of Jeddah, the authority said on its website.
Operations started two days after Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, inaugurated the airport, which is around 20 kilometres from central Islamabad.
The construction of the Y-shaped airport started almost a decade ago and it missed several completion deadlines, the latest one in April.
Until now, there has been no international airport in the Pakistani capital.
An air-force base with a single runway was used for domestic and international air travel.
The expected initial cost of the new airport was 311 million dollars.
The estimate was reviewed upwards several times and currently stands at around 890 million dollars.
Alleged mismanagement, misappropriation of funds and the repeated delays have sparked criticism and media scrutiny of the project.
The new airport spans 1,740 hectares of land and would be able to handle the world’s biggest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380.
With a passenger-handling capacity of 9 million people per annum, the airport is similar to Marseille airport in France.
Large airports like Dubai International Airport handle around 80 million passengers per annum.