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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 May, 2005, 20:48 GMT 21:48 UK
Iran's new airport in safety fear
Passengers from Dubai at Imam Khomeini airport on Saturday
Iran's Imam Khomeini International airport opened on Saturday
Iran hit back against fears raised by Britain and Canada about the safety of its new airport named after the father of its revolution, Imam Khomeini.

Britain and Canada warned citizens not to use the airport, because of fears there were irrigation channels beneath the runway that would make it unsafe.

But on Tuesday Iran's foreign ministry described the two countries' travel advisories as "very dangerous".

It also claimed Britain had asked for the name of the airport to be changed.

Britain said reports it wanted a name change were "nonsense" but local newspapers reported that Iranian students were planning to protest outside the local British Embassy over the issue.

Technical concerns

Meanwhile, the British Embassy in Tehran is said to be seeking assurances from the Iranian government and the International Civil Aviation Organisation that any problems with the irrigation channels would be sorted out.

Some reports also said Emirates Airlines had a technical problem with the refuelling facilities at the new airport and flew one of its planes to the old Tehran airport to refuel.

However, Reuters reported that Dubai-based Emirates said on Saturday it believes the airport is safe.

Flights to and from Dubai began on Saturday at the new airport near Tehran. More routes are expected to be transferred there from Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport in the coming months, according to Reuters.

The airport is no stranger to controversy. Last year it opened, then was closed down hours later by the revolutionary guards.

The government said at the time, the Turkish-Austrian consortium, TAV, chosen to build and run it, had links to the Israelis and posed a security risk.




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