By: Mir M.Hosseini
The new Imam Khomeini International Airport was originally scheduled to be inaugurated in Ahmadabad, 40 km south of Tehran on Feb, 1, 2004.
In 1966 ICAO submitted a report covering a study of specifications of a future airport in Tehran. The current site was agreed upon in 1971 and purchase of land began in 1975. The original project was given to a consortium of U.S. designers and Farmanfarmayan called TAMS-AFA to carry out the construction with an estimated budget of $53 billion. After the 1979 revolution, the new airport project shared the same destiny of other big projects such as the nuclear power plants. They were viewed as Shah's great ambitions and were suspended.
In Dec, 1982, the airport project was taken off the shelves; a budget was allocated for resumption of construction. TAMS submitted a complaint with international courts that resulted in withdrawal of 14.5 million dollars from Iranian accounts. Three project managers changed between 1983 and 1986 but very little was done until 1989. Those were the years of Iran–Iraq War also called Sacred Defense. In 1990, Tehran International Airport was renamed as Imam Khomeini International Airport.
Revisions of the master plan continued until 1995 when a contract was finalized and developments began. Big projects in Iran have always had behind the scene of struggles among power cartels which usually lead to higher costs and delays. The initial opening ceremony scheduled for Feb, 2004 had to be re-scheduled to May, 8. Just a few hours after the opening, the Revolutionary Guards closed the airport expressing discontent with security issues associated with a Turkish firm running the ground services. As was the case with Turkcell, TAV was forced to withdraw and the airport reopened on May, 13. Revolutionary Guards have been in charge of operating the airport ever since.
As of Oct, 28, 2007, all international flights except Hajj pilgrims of Saudi Arabia were directed to IKIA. Imam Khomeini International Airport already has been subject to many sidelines and speculations. Iran agreed to pay $5.7 million in compensation to Turkey's TAV.
Some hostile countries such as Canada and U.K. asked their citizens not to use IKIA in a statement on Apr, 29, 2005 traditionally expressing their Occidental grudge against development in Iran.
In June, 2007, some of the airports customs personnel were charged as members of a smuggling ring. Investigations led to closure of IKIA's customs office for a while. On Dec, 15, 2007, a KLM Airbus crashed with a Lufthansa plane which caused no casualties but was recorded as IKIA's first accident.
IKIA's first phase is now operating well, with a capacity of more than 5 million passengers and 120,000 tons of cargo per year.
IKIA is equipped with the ILS (Instrument Landing System) since August 2009. The system was purchased seven years before but the selling firm refused to set it up due to sanctions against Iran. The ILS was installed by Iranian experts who have earned a great self-confidence through the years.
IKIA has obtained the international certificate of Integrated Management System (IMS). IMS includes OHSAS 18001, ISO 14001: 2004 and ISO 9001, which are issued for safety and professional hygiene, protecting the environment and the quality of management respectively.
Wireless internet access is available at the airport for free, a luxury for Iranians who normally have to pay high prices for a slow dial-up connection. The airport is going to be connected to Tehran's Metro in the near future, until then taxis charge $15 on average to transport passengers to Tehran