French firms set to revamp Tehran airport in $2.8b project
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French firms set to revamp Tehran airport in $2.8b project

Bouygues, Aeroports de Paris latest companies pursuing lucrative contracts in Iran after nuclear deal’s promised sanctions relief

The Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, Iran, in 2008 (CC BY-SA Wikimedia Commons, Abhijitsathe)
The Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, Iran, in 2008 (CC BY-SA Wikimedia Commons, Abhijitsathe)

The largest-ever transport project in Iran, a $2.8 billion expansion of Tehran’s main international airport, will reportedly be developed by a joint venture of two French companies.

The Paris-based Bouygues and Aeroports de Paris are in talks with Tehran officials to build a second terminal at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, the Guardian reported Friday.

In August, Iranian media reported that Iran’s Civil Aviation Acting Head Mohammad Khodakarami hosted a delegation from Aeroports de Paris in Tehran where they agreed that the French company would partner in the development of the airport’s new terminal.

The new Iranshahr Terminal will have the capacity to handle 20 million visitors, up from its current 6 million and is due to be built in five years pending the timely lifting of international economic sanctions.

The nuclear accord reached in July aims to curb Iran’s nuclear activities in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief. Western nations and the UN have long suspected Iran of covertly pursuing nuclear weapons alongside its civilian program, charges denied by Tehran.

Sanctions relief will open a market of 79 million Iranians to foreign companies, and many have begun to line up for potentially lucrative business opportunities in the Iranian economy.

In an effort to renew once-strong economic ties with Iran, France opened a business development office in Tehran earlier this week.

French trade with Iran dropped from some $4.5 billion in 2004 to $565 million in 2013 as a result of international sanctions imposed on Tehran since 2006 due to its disputed nuclear program.

On Monday, French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll and Minister of State for Foreign Trade Matthias Fekl inaugurated the “Business France” office, and warned French companies to expect “fierce competition” from other European and American firms seeking a slice of the Iranian market.

Iran, which has 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, hopes to increase tourist arrivals to 20 million from the current 4.5 million over the next 10 years.

Masoud Soltanifar, the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, said that the country hopes to generate $25-30 billion dollars a year from tourism by 2025.

AP and AFP contributed to this report.

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