EghtesadOnline: The passenger terminal of Payam International Airport, located in the city of Karaj 40 km from Tehran, was officially launched on Friday after Taban Airline’s MD88 operated a maiden flight from Mashhad to Karaj.
The airport is now the first passenger airport in Alborz Province, one of the most populated provinces of Iran.
“We have plans for twice weekly flights between Karaj and Mashhad … More flights will be launched to and from the cities of Ahvaz and Yazd in the coming weeks,” said Saeed Zarandi, director of Payam Special Economic Zone, in an interview with the National Radio.
The official did not mention any plans for starting international flights from the airport. However, Turkish and Iraqi officials have earlier expressed interest in starting direct flights from Karaj to Izmir and Najaf, Financial Tribune reported.
Payam Airport was established in 1997 as a cargo-only airport. However, the increasing population of Alborz Province prompted authorities to devise plans to develop a passenger terminal for the airport.
The very first goal of establishing the passenger terminal is to ease local residents’ access to international airports, as they formerly had to use Imam Khomeini International Airport all the way in the south of Tehran.
The annually capacity of the airport is set to reach 5,000 passengers by the end of the next Iranian year (March 2020), which is expected to help considerably lower passenger traffic at IKCO.
Iran’s Hi-Tech Airport City
The airport is located at the heart of Payam Special Economic Zone, an area owned by ICT Ministry, which is set to become Iran’s first Technology Zone in the coming years.
Payam Special Economic Zone is currently considering 230 investment projects, nearly 50 of which are related to hi-tech industries.
The ICT Ministry has long-term plans to make the special zone more attractive for foreign companies.
“The establishment of the passenger terminal is part of the plan,” Zarandi said.
With a total area of 3,600 square kilometers, the special zone is located in the proximity of one-third of the country’s industrial units in Tehran, Alborz and Qazvin provinces.
Expanding Cargo Operations
The airport will continue to operate cargo flights, the official said. “In fact, our studies show that operating passenger flights would help empower the airport’s cargo potentials,” he added.
After the completion of development projects in the past few months, the airport hosted Antonov 124, which is the world’s second largest cargo aircraft.
Iran Air, the country’s flag carrier, is also expected to start cargo services to and from Payam International Airport in the coming days.
Alborz Province officials are working to enhance access to the area. Plans are underway to connect the airport to the country’s railroad network.
Offering special incentives to knowledge-based firms and including an exclusive corridor for exporters of knowledge-based goods are among the plans for boosting Payam’s cargo services.