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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 May, 2004, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
New Tehran airport shut by army
Passengers from Dubai at Imam Khomeini airport on Saturday
Iran's domestic airlines have refused to use the new airport
A new international airport in Tehran has been closed on security grounds, shortly after it opened with the landing of the first foreign plane.

Iran's armed forces permitted only one flight from Dubai to land at the Imam Khomeini airport (IKIA), the official Irna news agency reported.

Airport officials were accused of ignoring a ban on "foreign groups" at the airport, south-west of the capital.

The airport was built and was expected to be run by a Turkish-Austrian firm.

It is designed to replace the city's congested Mehrabad airport.

'Security threats'

The new airport - located about 45km (30 miles) south of Tehran - had proved to be controversial even before it opened.

Turkish-Austrian consortium Tepe-Akfen-Vie (TAV) controlled the airport, but Iran's two domestic airlines had said they would not transfer their operations to the airport run by foreigners.

Saturday's statement by Iran's armed forces said the decision to entrust the airport's operation to a foreign company "threatens the security of the country as well as its dignity".

"Unfortunately airport officials took this untimely decision without taking into account either security constraints or the Supreme Council law on national security banning the use of foreign forces," the statement said.

It added that the airport "was closed until further notice".

The other five scheduled Saturday's flights were diverted to Mehrabad in central Tehran.


SEE ALSO:
Iranian plane crashes in Emirates
10 Feb 04  |  Middle East
Iran plagued by poor aircraft safety
20 Feb 03  |  Middle East
Country profile: Iran
15 Jan 04  |  Country profiles



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