The Iran Project

Iranian investor to sign airport plan abandoned by French

An aerial view of the Imam Khomeini International Airport in southern Tehran

An aerial view of the Imam Khomeini International Airport in southern Tehran

Iran will soon sign the contract to build a new terminal at the Imam Khomeini Airport (IKA) in Tehran to handle 25 million passengers a year, an official says.

The new terminal, T2, is part of an expansion plan which the French abandoned in 2017 in anticipation of new US sanctions on Iran, canceling a $2.8 billion agreement.

The project is now to be awarded to a domestic investor, IKA Managing Director Mohammad Mehdi Karbalaei announced Tuesday.

“Necessary measures to prepare contract documents and expedite the start of study, design and implementation of the project are being carried out rapidly, and soon the memorandum of this large investment will be signed with a well-known and prominent domestic investor,” he said.

His remarks came two days after an Iranian road and urban development deputy minister announced the beginning of a process to provide financing for the construction of a new IKA terminal.

Karbalaei had said in December that Iran was in talks with three foreign investors to build the terminal.

The new terminal will be built on 410,000 square meters of land and will include a new runway, parking lots and a flight control tower, Karbalaei said.

The airport, 30 kilometers southwest of Tehran, is currently operating at an annual handling capacity of 10 million passengers mainly through its first terminal, T1. Last June, Iran opened Salam Terminal dedicated to pilgrims, but it is not part of IKA’s master expansion plan.

Officials say the ultimate plan is to also build a third terminal, T3, to raise the capacity to 90 million passengers a year.

The idea to build IKA was conceived before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, with original designs prepared by a US consortium in order to make it a regional air travel hub but the airport was inaugurated only in May 2004.

In January 2016, French industrial group Bouygues signed a preliminary deal to build and run T2, but the company as well as its fellow French partner Aeroports de Paris canceled the agreement in 2017, citing failure to get financial backing from international banks which feared US reprisals.

Iran had hired the Netherlands Airport Consultant Company (NACO) as its main adviser in the project to expand IKA’s capacity to 35 million passengers.

NACO and the French companies were among scores of international firms which rushed to Iran as the country re-opened for business after the lifting of sanctions in early 2017, but they withdrew after then president Donald Trump pulled the US out of a nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed the sanctions.

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