Commercial Services From Kabul Airport Gradually Resume

A PIA aircraft pictured Sept. 13 at KBL, the first commercial international flight since the Taliban retook power in August.
Credit: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

Commercial international airline activity to Afghanistan has restarted for the first time since mid-August when the Taliban declared that it had taken control of the country’s capital. 

According to multiple news agencies, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Boeing 777-200 landed at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International (KBL) on Sept. 13, marking the first foreign commercial flight to the country since the Taliban takeover. The aircraft arrived from Islamabad with about 10 passengers on board and returned to Pakistan’s capital with around 70 passengers, including World Bank employees. According to German news agency dpa, PIA plans to operate its next service on Sept. 15.

Qatar Airways operated several charter flights out of KBL to the carrier’s hub at Doha Hamad International Airport (DOH) earlier in September. “These flights were all charters for Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs so we cannot say much as [they were] not commercial flights. Generally [they took] cargo aid into the country, and ad-hoc [were] taking people out,” a Qatar Airways spokesperson in Doha told Aviation Daily. 

“Separately, we have done many charters over the past few weeks to evacuate people who arrived in Qatar and sent them on to other countries,” the spokesperson added.

Technical teams provided by Turkey and Qatar are helping to rebuild and secure KBL, which was significantly damaged during the chaotic evacuation process.

Meanwhile, the new Taliban-appointed CEO of Afghanistan’s flag-carrier Ariana Afghan Airlines plans to restart international flights to Delhi before the end of September, according to a Sept. 10 report from Turkish newswire Anadolu Agency. Aviation authorities have started planning flight schedules and destinations for Ariana. The websites of the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) and Ariana Afghan Airlines were not functional as of Sept. 13.

Ariana previously said it resumed domestic flights from Kabul to Herat, Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif on Sept. 4. Kam Air, Afghanistan’s largest airline, said on Instagram that it is also working to restore domestic operations. 

Before the current Afghanistan crisis, the leading foreign carriers in Kabul were Emirates Airline and Turkish Airlines, operating the two main international routes to Dubai and Istanbul respectively. LCCs Air Arabia and flydubai as well as Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) also offered services to the country. 

Kurt Hofmann

Kurt Hofmann has been writing on the airline industry for 25 years. He appears frequently on Austrian, Swiss and German television and broadcasting…