EghtesadOnline: Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport has been distinguished as the third fastest-growing major airport in the world.
Operated by Iran Airports Company, IKIA is located 30 kilometers southwest of Iran's capital city Tehran.
A new study by Routes Online shows the airport, which recently completed eight development projects, grew passenger numbers by 48.6% during the first half of 2018 to 3.93 million, helped by Ata Airlines, following the rise in frequencies to Istanbul Ataturk.
Taking the top spot is Quanzhou Jinjiang International, an airport serving the city of Quanzhou in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian. The airport enjoyed a growth of 58.6% during the first half of the year after handling more than 4.3 million passengers, up from 2.66 million a year ago, Financial Tribune reported.
The research ranked all airports by passenger numbers from January-June 2018, using preliminary data provided by Sabre Market Intelligence, and then by percentage annual growth when compared with the same period in 2017. Only airports with more than 2.5 million passengers during the first half of the year were included.
At number two in the list is Nanchang Changbei International, serving the capital of China’s Jiangxi Province. Despite the airport suffering a partial roof collapse in March following strong winds, passenger numbers increased by 57.7% to 7.08 million.
Airports in China and India accounted for 10 of the top 20 fastest-growing major airports in the world during the first half of the year, highlighting the growing dominance of the countries as aviation powerhouses.
> Recently Inaugurated Development Projects
The eight development projects referred to by the study were inaugurated on July 26 in the presence of Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi, Managing Director of Iran Airports Company Rahmatollah Mahabadi, and Managing Director of Imam Khomeini Airport City Company Shahram Adamnejad.
They included a fire department building, a security building, an iron gate, an administrative office building for Terminal 1, an eastern pier for Terminal 1, a passenger apron, a cargo apron and a visa processing area.
“The fact is IKAC development is the largest national project in Iran. The project is definitely larger than all oil, gas and communications projects, and is one of the most influential project that could have a deep impact on Iranian people’s lives and organization of Tehran,” Akhoundi said during the inaugural ceremony.
He noted that one of the most important points considered in the development of IKAC is to develop three modes of transportation, namely rail, road and air, in the airport city.
“We changed the route of Tehran-Isfahan high-speed railroad and it now meets the airport,” he added.
Akhoundi further said that another important plan is to connect IKAC with road transportation as well.
There is another big project being carried out in the south of the airport city, which is Iran’s first bypass expressway with a speed limit of 130 km/h connecting Abyek in Qazvin Province to Charmshahr.
The minister also said plans have been devised to relocate Tehran’s major cargo delivery point to the south of IKAC. This means 800 hectares of land in Tehran will be freed and prevents the daily travel of 25,000 heavy-duty vehicles in Tehran, which have a high share in traffic and air pollution.
Akhoundi told Financial Tribune that around 90,000 square meters of apron were added to the cargo section of the airport as well as 111,000 square meters to passenger apron in the western part of the airport.
In addition, over 2,000 meters of new space were allocated for ingoing and outgoing passengers for resting and transit purposes.
The minister explained that the new visa processing area makes it very easy for foreign passengers to obtain visas, get insurance, pay duties, accommodation, etc. in one place.
There are also more schemes to provide hardware and software systems to the airport to increase capacity and improve services for passengers.
On the sidelines of the inaugural ceremony, the minister along with other officials and reporters paid a visit to Salam Terminal to inspect the final stages of the terminal's construction.
According to Adamnejad, the terminal’s physical construction has made 95% progress.
“We’re trying to make the terminal ready to offer services to passengers by the end of summer,” he added.
Salam Terminal’s passenger capacity was first planned to be 1.5 million per year but changes were made later in the airport’s design and the capacity rose to 4.5 million passengers per year.
Plans are underway to inaugurate the terminal in summer.
Meanwhile, plans are underway to build another terminal at the airport. Iranshahr Terminal’s first development phase has been designed to handle 25 million passengers per year and will reach 110 million passengers annually upon the completion of its third and final phase.
IKIA presently has a passenger capacity of around five million per year. However, in the last Iranian year (March 2017-18), the airport hosted over nine million passengers.
In an exclusive interview with Financial Tribune in June, Adamnejad said the airport’s passenger capacity will reach 120 million per year upon the completion of the two terminals.
According to Koroush Fattahi, the caretaker of IKIA Airport City Company, IKIA registered a traffic growth rate of 11.5% in 2017, 3% higher than the global average.
Iran Airports Company's latest data show Imam Khomeini International Airport registered 4,061 takeoffs and landings to register an increase of 1%, while transporting 587,332 passengers and 11,210 tons of cargo during the Iranian month ending June 21, which show a decline of 2% and 3% respectively YOY.