In late-January 2016, a few days after the Implementation Day, the French construction company VINCI Airports, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the concession for Mashhad and Isfahan airports. The event occurred during President Hassan Rouhani’s state visit to France where the Airbus agreement also was signed.
Now 10 months laters, VINCI Airports officials have visited the airports in order to prepare the ground for the projects. On 14 November 2016, a six-member panel visited Isfahan International Shahid Beheshti Airport and the airport’s General Manager Hassan Amjadi, YJC reports.
He said that they seek to sign and implement the agreement from Rouhani’s visit to Paris in January 2016. VINCI Airports has already presented introductory designs for the two airports. During the visit to Isfahan, VINCI Airports inspected the airport and negotiated with airport officials. Iran Airports Holding Company (IAC), the state-owned holding and operating company for the majority of civilian airports in Iran, was also present.
The agreement with Mashhad and Isfahan is the first step in a process that should lead to a renovation, investment, extension and operation of the two airports. The agreement is a so-called “build-operate-transfer” agreement (BOT), wherein VINCI Airports receives a concession from IAC to construct and later operate the airports for a certain period.
Isfahan and Mashhad are both major touristic cities in Iran. The growing number of tourists and pilgrimages, especially to Mashhad, has put pressure to modernise the infrastructure. In September 2016, Austrian Airlines launched a 3-weekly service from Vienna to Isfahan, making Isfahan the second city after Tehran to have a connection to Europe (excluding Istanbul).
It was stated that a new international terminal with CIP services will be constructed. The new 25.000 m2 terminal with a capacity of two million passengers will be ready in 2 to 2.5 years after the construction’s starting date. The current and sole terminal is also planned to get a facelift, however, inadequate information was stated. Beside the terminal expansions, other facilities such as parking lots are also be included in the development plans.
The passenger capacity of Isfahan International Shahid Beheshti Airport is expected to double from today’s roughly 2 million when the project is completed.
Isfahan’s Mayor, Mehdi Jamalinejad, met with VINCI Airports on the sidelines discussing bilateral relations between Iran and France.
VINCI Airports also paid a visit to Mashhad, where the second project is planned to start, on the day after. A new international terminal, parking lot and transportation ways to the airport terminals were discussed. Mashhad Airport officials, likewise as Isfahan’s, stressed to realise their agreement with the French company.
One week prior, on 9 November 2016, France’s Ambassador to Iran, Mr François Sénémaud, visited Mashhad Airport. The Ambassador held talks with the airport’s general manager and reviewed the international terminal.
Mashhad Airport is Iran’s second largest airport after Tehran-Mehrabad Airport with nearly 9 million annual passengers.
Photo: Reza Haji-pour