KABUL: Ariana Afghan Airlines on Monday resumed regular flights from Kabul to Dubai, reopening a heavily used international route that had been suspended since the Taliban victory over the Western-backed government in August.
Ariana will operate daily flights, charging $550 for a one-way ticket, the state-run airline said on its Facebook page.
A spokesman said there had been heavy demand for tickets on the first flight, which was scheduled to depart at 4.30pm local time on Monday (1200 GMT). Dubai will be the only international destination offered by Ariana for the time being.
Some charter services have been flying to Kabul since Taliban takeover, but normally scheduled commercial flights have remained suspended.
Pakistan International Airlines suspended its charter service to Kabul from Islamabad last month, citing interference from Taliban authorities, who had warned the airline it should cut its ticket prices.
Tickets for PIA flights had been selling for up to $2,500, according to local travel agents, compared with around $180 before the Taliban victory.
PIA said it could not afford to operate services at previous prices because of the high cost of insuring flights to a country considered by insurers to be a war zone.
With a worsening economic crisis compounding concerns about Afghanistan’s future under the Taliban, there has been heavy demand for flights out, made worse by repeated problems at land border crossings into Pakistan.
After the Taliban took control of Kabul in August, the Ariana Afghan Airlines suspended its flights. It resumed some of its domestic flights in Afghanistan between Kabul and three major regional cities in early September.
The development came after a Qatar-based technical team reopened Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport (KBL) for receiving aid and domestic services.
On its social media page, Ariana Afghan Airlines had stated that it had restarted the flights between Kabul and the western city of Herat, Mazar-i Sharif in northern Afghanistan and Kandahar in the south.
It said: “Ariana Afghan Airlines is proud to resume its domestic flights.”
The Qatar’s ambassador to Afghanistan had said that the Kabul airport’s runway had been restored in cooperation with authorities in Afghanistan.
The airport in Kabul had been chaotic since the Taliban took control of the city.
The airport in Kabul was shut down after the end of the US-led airlift of its citizens.
The evacuation operation ended at the end of August. In an attempt to restore order, the Taliban worked towards the reopening of the airport.
In the week of August, the US Federal Aviation Administration stated that the US civil aircraft had been restricted from operating over Afghanistan unless provided prior authorisation.
The FAA had then stated: “Due to both the lack of air traffic services and a functional civil aviation authority in Afghanistan, as well as ongoing security concerns, US civil operators, pilots, and US-registered civil aircraft are prohibited from operating at any altitude over much of Afghanistan.”
Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2021