See biography by B. Moin (2000).
Imam Khomeini International Airport is located in Tehran, Iran. The airport is located about south of the city. It was designed to replace Mehrabad International Airport, which is in the west of the city, now inside the city boundaries. The airport, originally designated as Ahmadabad, is now named after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Iranian revolution in 1979. The Airport's Second terminal is currently under discussion, and has been for the past five years now.
After the Islamic Revolution, the project was abandoned until the government of Iran decided to design and build the airport using local know-how. The French firm ADP was selected to head the local designers and engineering firms. A turnkey design and build contract was awarded to a local general contractor company, Kayson, to carry out and manage the construction. After two years this contract was abandoned and was awarded to a Bonyad, the Mostazafan & Janbazan (M&J Foundation), a public cartel.
After construction of the main terminal was finished by M&J Foundation, the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization decided to turn the management of operations along with the construction of the second terminal to the TAV (Tepe-Akfen-Vie) consortium of two Turkish (Tepe and Akfen) and an Austrian (Vie) companies.
There were numerous issues surrounding the construction of the airport including the supply of fuel to the new airport, and a delay in signing a deal with the Iranian oil ministry forced a delay in the opening of the airport until May 8 2004.
Just prior to the opening on May 8, two local airlines refused to switch to the new airport. Economic Hayat-e No daily quoted Ali Abedzadeh, director of semi-privately-owned Iran Aseman Airlines, as saying "We are not flying from an airport run by foreigners".
"I think they (the armed forces) were given false reports that the Turks were still on the site, while they had all evacuated the airport by Friday," airport manager Hussein Pirouzi said.
However, on May 8, a few hours after the opening of airport, the Revolutionary Guards of the Iranian Armed Forces closed it, citing security fears over the use of foreigners in the running of the airport. Only one Emirates flight from Dubai was allowed to land. The second flight from Dubai, which was an Iran Air flight, was forced to land in Isfahan International Airport, because the Mehrabad Airport did not allow it to land there after the Imam Khomeini airport was closed by the armed forces. The rest of the flights were diverted to Mehrabad.
On May 11, in a meeting of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal and Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, the Turkish expressed uneasiness about the actions of the Iranian armed forces.
The airport reopened on May 13, as deputy head of Iran's Joint Chiefs of Staff Brigadier-General Alireza Afshar stated "because foreign companies will no longer be in charge of the airport's operation, security obstacles are removed."
TAV officials, who had agreed to clear out for two weeks for the dispute to be settled, also stated that they believed the memorandum of understanding they signed with the Iranian government last year to operate the airport's Terminal 1 is still in effect.
Further complicating matters, on April 29 2005, the United Kingdom and Canada warned its citizens against using the airport due to alleged safety concerns concerning the runway, which has been claimed to have been built over ancient qanats (subterranean waterways) Iranian officials countered these claims by stating that there are no safety issues and that the International Civil Aviation Organisation had inspected and approved the airport.
The Sepah of Iran were announced temporary operators after Iran Air resigned its post in January 2008. However, the Iranian Government sent a request to IETA for an extension on the Sepah's operation of the airport until August 2009. The request is thought to be accepted.
Currently, 85% of respondents have rated the airport's services to passengers as poor or average.
The situation was resolved peacefully by the Iranian Police, decided against prosecuting the passengers (something airport officials and crew members were annoyed about) on their doings and all flights have continued operation. As a result of all the mayhem in caused in the airport, Iran Air officially resigned as operator of the airport on January 13 2008.
The change of international flights from Mehrabad International Airport to IKA has been gradual, starting with flights to countries bordering the Persian Gulf. All flights have now been moved to IKA except domestic flights and flights to Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah.
All destinations in bold italic are regional destinations proposed to be operated alongside Mehrabad Airport. All destinations in bold are currently operated in Mehrabad during Hajj seasons:
According to a fax sent to Iran Daily by the company's Information Dissemination Department, if the sum is made available and the same amount is earmarked for the year to March 2010, the first phase of the airport would go into operation in the year to March 2009. He said that constructing the second runway, completing Customs Administrations' and a number of other buildings are among the projects for Phase 1 of IKIA. Presently the airport has the capacity to handle 6.5 million passengers per annum, he said and noted that 3 million people will use the airport by March 19. Given the eight percent growth in flights, it is estimated that IKIA will have moved five million passengers by March 2009. The newly-built Imam Khomeini International, the largest airport in Iran, sprawls over an area of 13,500 hectares. About 3.2 trillion rials (US$357 million) will be needed to promote the airport to a world-class level.
ADPI has been commissioned for providing a master plan development study, with a first stage of development offering a 26.5 Million Annual Passengers throughput capacity.
Mehr news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying the cabinet approved a measure requiring the state airports body to pay the $5.7 million to TAV. It was not immediately clear whether the amount was all or part of compensation claims by TAV. Iranian officials could not be contacted immediately to confirm the report. TAV won an 11-year contract in 2003 to operate Terminal One of the city's new international airport and build a second terminal there for about $200 million. But the project fell through after Iranian hardliners opposed allowing a foreign firm to take such a key role. The airport was re-opened under Iranian management. A TAV consortium poured $15 million into the airport but was unceremoniously thrown out on the eve of the first flights in 2004 by hardline Revolutionary Guards.
On Saturday December 15 2007, an Airbus A330-200 belonging to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines coming in from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol flight number 433 collided with an Airbus 340-300 Lufthansa bound to Frankfurt International Airport. The accident, which took place at 3:00 IRST, caused no casualties but led to the cancellation of the Lufthansa flight number 601. The aircraft was coming to a stop in front of a passenger boarding bridge when it crashed into the wing of a Lufthansa Airbus A340 that was heading towards the runway to take off for Frankfurt. It was reported that the planes did not sustain severe damage. On 4 January 2008 an Iran Air B747-100B had three of its engines catch fire whilst landing at Imam Khomeini Airport. Luckily, the heavy snowfall managed to put the fires out and the airplane returned to service two days after the incident.