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Khorram: Iran's new ariport, IKIA, to resume operations "under all circumstances"

Tehran, May 9, IRNA -- Minister of Roads and Transportation Ahmad Khorram, alluding to obstacles that have prevented the start of operations of the Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA), said here Saturday that the airport will nonetheless go into operation "under all circumstances" as earlier announced.

photo: ISNA

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of Saturday's inaugural ceremony for the airport, he said that although the airport is for commercial purposes, the primary responsbility for providing security would still be on the police and the military and their personnel will do the task.

Referring to the controversial accord signed between his ministry and a Turkish company that was to operate the airport, Khorram said the same will be annulled through legal channels.

photo: ISNA

Iran Air had commissioned the operation of the airport to a Turkish-Austrian consortium, a move the armed forces questioned, saying the country's "security" and "dignity" cannot be jeopardized by such agreements.

Khorram said 31 companies had announced their interest in the the airport project and eventually a Turkish company was chosen by his ministry in accordance with pertinent laws and regulations, adding that no person or organization objected to the choice of the ministry until last month.

photo: ISNA

Since last month certain organizations have begun to raise objections to the choice of the Turkish company as the airport's operator and they have announced an investigation would look into the matter to clear things up.

Although the legal documents on the case have been sent to the proper authorities, they have still to be reviewed and if found to meet legal requirements, the accord will be finalized, Khorram said.

In case the agreement with the Turkish company is nullified, damages will be paid to the company, the minister stressed.

The IKIA began operations Saturday with an inaugural ceremony followed by the landing of one foreign aircraft, but was later told to suspend operations by the armed forces for "security" reasons.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the armed forces said that it had issued landing rights for an Air Emirates aircraft to land from Dubai but decided to close the airport to more foreign flights.

"The airport will remain closed until security conditions are fulfilled," it said, adding that "foreign flights will avail of the facilities of Mehrabad International Airport as before."

"Regretfully, officials of the airport have taken this inappropriate decision without heeding security requirements as well as the requirements of the Supreme National Security Council," the statement stated.

"Security is a vital and non-negotiable requirement especially when it is crucial to the country's dignity and security," the statement added.

Cabinet ministers, in a meeting scheduled for Sunday, are to decide on the issues that have prevented Imam Khomeini International Airport from operating.

IKIA was first inaugurated in Febuary but failed to start operations due to certain difficulties.

IKIA's Terminal 1, located in the middle of an uninhabited land about 45 kilometers (30 miles) south of the capital, was built at a cost of 350 million dollars. It can receive 2.5 million international and four million domestic passengers a year.

Officials, at the time the airport was completed, said that it will eventually be able to handle 40 million passengers a year, making Tehran a regional transport hub.

President Mohammad Khatami inaugurated Terminal 1 on February 1-- the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic marked by the return of Ayotollah Ruhollah Khomeini from exile.

It was to start handling international flights two months later, that is, by end of March.

... Payvand News - 5/9/04 ... --

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