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New airport opens in Tehran

Tehran’s new airport has opened, three decades and more than US$475 million after the project began.

Tehran’s new airport has opened, three decades and more than US$475 million after the project began. The Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA), 45 km (30 miles) south of Tehran, opened on the 25th anniversary of the return from exile of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founding father of the Islamic Republic.

Only the first phase of the airport has been completed, but once it is fully finished the airport will have a capacity of 40 million passengers per year.

"Iran used to be the heart of the Silk Road, the world's main trade artery," President Mohammad Khatami said in a speech at the inauguration ceremony.

"Now it can again connect East to West and north to south, given its strategic and geographical location," the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

IKIA will handle all international flights, including the soon to be launched Air Arabia service, as well as most domestic services. The old Mehrabad International Airport, which handled around nine million passengers in 2003, will be given only to just cargo and military flights.

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