One of the many things affected by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was the country’s aviation sector. Once connected to many countries in the region by regularly scheduled flights, Afghanistan is struggling to establish a routine international network to and from its cities.
But the last few days have seen some routes being re-established, such as the one between Islamabad and Kabul by Ariana Airlines. Let’s find out more.
Afghanistan’s flag carrier Ariana Afghan Airlines announced on November 11th that it will connect Kabul with Islamabad again with twice-weekly service. The state-owned airline said that flights between the two cities would fly on Thursdays and Mondays. The flight from Kabul will cost $400, and the return journey from Islamabad will be for $100.
Ariana is the second carrier flying to Islamabad after privately-owned Kam air, which, too, has started multiple weekly flights to the city. Ariana also began regular services to Dubai last week, as reported by Reuters. There has been a heavy demand for flights to Dubai, with the airline charging $550 for a one-way ticket.
These are the first few signs of regular flight resumption in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. So far, there have been charter services to and from Kabul, but scheduled flights have not had much of a comeback.
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Demand for international travel
The appetite for international travel in the country is huge, fueled mainly by the desire of many to leave Afghanistan due to a crumbling economy. However, there aren’t that many options available at the moment to fly out, and ticket prices remain out of reach for many.
When Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suspended charter flights to Kabul last month, it cited interference from the Taliban, according to Reuters. PIA had been selling tickets for $2,500 compared to $180 during the pre-Taliban days. The airline said the reason for the price hike was the massive cost of insuring flights to a country that is considered a war zone.
Domestic flights within the country restarted in early September, with Ariana resuming some flights between Kabul and provincial cities of Herat, Mazar-i Sharif, and Kandahar. But locals are feeling the pinch due to the lack of regularly scheduled international flights and high-ticket prices.
A report by ANI cites TOLOnews and quotes a ticket recipient as saying,
“We want the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) to return the flight availability to its normal state because we only have Kam Air and it is not enough. Like Iran and Pakistan, we do not have many planes.”
Afghanistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) says that scheduled international flights have not normalized due to political challenges. As such, there is a lack of a specific timetable and schedule at Kabul Airport.
Given Afghanistan’s political and economic situation, it seems that other international carriers might still take some time before flying into the country. Ariana and Kam Air beginning to resume some international flights is a positive sign, nevertheless.