Afghanistan seeks permission to operate commercial flights to Pakistan

Published September 15, 2021
An Ariana Afghan Airlines aircraft is seen in this file photo taking off from the Kabul airport on Aug 14, 2021. — AFP/File
An Ariana Afghan Airlines aircraft is seen in this file photo taking off from the Kabul airport on Aug 14, 2021. — AFP/File

The civil aviation ministry of Afghanistan has requested Pakistan to allow two of its airlines — Ariana Afghan Airlines and Kam Air — to begin commercial flight operations to the neighbouring country.

In a letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, sent by the Ministry of Aviation and Transport of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) dated Sep 13, it requested Pakistani authorities to permit air operations of two national carriers of Afghanistan on the basis of the memorandum of understanding signed between the two countries.

The Afghan ministry said its two carriers aimed to commence their scheduled flights and requested the CAA to facilitate the process.

The letter also recalled that the Kabul Airport was damaged by American troops before their withdrawal, however, “By technical assistance of our Qatar Brother, the Airport became operational once again and a notice to airmen (Notam) in this regard issued on 6 September 2021,” said the letter.

Warning from Qatar

Qatar had a day ago warned it would not take responsibility for Kabul airport without "clear" agreements with all involved, including the Taliban, about its operations, according to AFP.

"We need to make sure that everything is addressed very clearly otherwise ... we are not able to take any responsibility of the airport (if) all these things are not addressed," Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani had said at a press briefing.

"Right now the status is still (under) negotiation," he told the presser.

Meanwhile, a Qatari official was on Sep 9 quoted by Reuters as saying the Kabul Airport was about 90 per cent ready for operations but its reopening was planned gradually.

"Flights into Kabul will fly through Pakistan's airspace for the time being because the majority of Afghanistan is still not covered by flight radar," he had said.

Chaos at the airport

The Kabul airport was left inoperable after US-led forces finished a chaotic evacuation of over 120,000 people, and the Taliban have since scrambled to get it operational with technical assistance from Qatar and other nations, according to AFP.

Turbulent scenes were witnessed at the Kabul airport on Aug 16 after thousands rushed the facility following the Taliban's capture the Afghan capital. Several Afghans had plunged to their deaths while hanging off the side of a US military cargo plane that was leaving the airport.

On Aug 26, two suicide bombers and gunmen had attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul’s airport, transforming a scene of desperation into one of horror in the waning days of airlift for those fleeing the Taliban takeover. The attacks had killed at least169 Afghans and 13 US troops.

The Pakistan Inter­national Airlines (PIA) had on Aug 16 suspended its flights to Afghanistan due to the uncertain security situation in the war-ravaged country and the chaotic scenes prevailing at Kabul airport.

After the situation normalised, the PIA had on Sep 13 run its first commercial flight to Kabul. Prior to it, the national airline was undertaking special flights to evacuate people stranded in the neighbouring country.

A Boeing 777, with flight number PK 6429, departed from Islamabad as a commercial flight chartered by the World Bank, carrying officials from the bank and journalists, airline spokesman Abdullah H. Khan had said.

Qatar Airways had also run a chartered flight from Kabul to Doha on Sept 9, carrying about 113 people.

Opinion

Sub judice rule
18 Sep 2021

Sub judice rule

It is time this objection, sub judice, is laid to rest.
The Black Caps folly
Updated 18 Sep 2021

The Black Caps folly

There is so much wrong — and worrying — about the entire sorry episode of New Zealand backing out of Pakistan tour.
CT NAP revisited
Updated 18 Sep 2021

CT NAP revisited

A policy of appeasement towards extremists has undermined the state’s writ.
Pathways for reform
Updated 17 Sep 2021

Pathways for reform

Even now the government has said they are listening, but they have not said how they are listening.

Editorial

Blinken’s remarks
Updated 18 Sep 2021

Blinken’s remarks

The US establishment cannot scapegoat Pakistan for two decades of bad policy in Afghanistan.
18 Sep 2021

Worrying survey

THE findings of the Labour Force Survey 2018-19 indicate that some important headline trends have already taken or...
18 Sep 2021

Special needs

THE fact that only 3,653 children with special needs, out of some 300,000 in Sindh, are registered with the...
TTP amnesty?
Updated 17 Sep 2021

TTP amnesty?

An amnesty should be for some individuals, not the entire outfit.
17 Sep 2021

Media regulation

THE needless controversy over media regulation may finally be heading for a resolution. In a meeting with ...
17 Sep 2021

Refusing audit

THE continuous resistance put up by several public-sector organisations to submitting their accounts for audit by ...