Iranian investors to take over $2.8bn airport expansion first mulled by Bouygues

Iranian investors are to take over a $2.8bn contract to build a second terminal at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran. The project has been on hold since 2017, when Iran cancelled a preliminary agreement with Bouygues amid growing hostility between Iran and the Donald Trump administration in the US (see further reading).

The T2 scheme, part of a plan to expand capacity of the airport from 10 million to 25 million passengers a year, is to be awarded to an as yet unnamed domestic investor. The announcement was made on Tuesday by Mohammad Mehdi Karbalaei, Imam Khomeini’s managing director, and reported by the official Press TV news agency.

Karbalaei said: "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."

The airport, 30km southwest of Tehran, has one runway and one main terminal. Last June, the Salam Terminal was opened for pilgrims to Iran’s Shi’a holy places, but it is not part of the airport’s master expansion plan, which ultimately envisages the construction of a third terminal to raise capacity to 90 million passengers a year.   

Imam Khomeini was conceived before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, with original designs prepared by a US consortium, however the project had to wait until May 2004 to enter service.

In January 2016, French industrial group Bouygues and Aeroports de Paris signed an agreement to build and operate the expanded airport, but this was cancelled the following year. The French companies said they would struggle to get financial backing from international banks after the US declared its "maximum pressure" policy towards Iran.

The airport lies along the main highway linking Tehran to Bandar Abbas on the Gulf coast, and is a gateway to the tourist cities of Isfahan and Shiraz. A high-speed railway between Tehran to Isfahan is about to connect through the airport.

Image: An Iran Air Airbus A300 being refuelled at Imam Khomeini International Airport (Iranairlover/CC BY-SA 4.0)

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