Through The Years: Kam Air’s Diverse Fleet

The scenes at Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport are horrifying, and it is impossible to know just how awful it is when so far away. Yet reports that Afghanistan’s largest airline, Kam Air, is in talks with the Taliban to restart operations. Although it is a highly sensitive matter and timeframes are anything but certain, we look at Kam Air, whose first flight was in December 2004. Since then, 20 aircraft types have been used.

This ex-Continental B767-200ER entered Kam Air’s fleet in 2007. Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt via Wikimedia.

An extremely mixed fleet

Kam Air has operated an extremely diversified fleet in its 17-year history, as would be expected under the circumstances and where mainly wet-leased aircraft were the order of the day. The current year has seen the A340-300 (previously used by Philippine Airlines and AirAsia X) used, along with the B737-300, B737-500, B767-300ER, and ATR-42.

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The carrier’s first widebody, a B767-200ER leased from defunct Kyrgyzstan airline Phoenix Aviation, was used in 2005 from Kabul to Dubai. The -200ER was again used from 2007 until 2018, the year the A340-300 entered service. The only B767-300ER appeared in 2020 and 2021.

Kam Air B767-300ER
Kam Air leased this B767-300ER from Ukrainian Wings, with Kabul to Istanbul seeing it the most, with it often used to Delhi and Herat too. Photo: Colin Cooke via Flickr.

The MD-87 had the most flights

Across Kam Air’s 17 years, over one-quarter of all passenger flights (27%) were by the MD-87, a type used between December 2012 and October 2019. This is a finding from analyzing schedules using data from experts Cirium.

Kam Air MD-82
If all MD-80-series aircraft are combined, they had 40% of the airline’s total movements between 2004 and 2021. This photo shows MD-82 YA-KMF. Kam Air used it from 2008 to 2017, and before that by TWA and American Airlines. Photo: Konstantin Von Wedelstaedt via Wikimedia.

Aircraft used over the past 17 years

The following lists all aircraft used in order of total flights, led by the MD-87. Note the use of the Antonov 24s and 26s, along with the B727, Saab 340, and Fokker 100. The latter, an important niche regional jet, was used domestically between 2016 and 2017. While we know how often passenger aircraft were used, we cannot be sure about Kam Air’s freighters. As such, they’re shown at the bottom.

  1. MD-87
  2. B737-300
  3. MD-82
  4. B737-200
  5. ATR-42
  6. A320
  7. A340-300
  8. Saab 340
  9. MD-83
  10. AN-24
  11. B767-200ER
  12. B737-500
  13. B737-800
  14. B737-400
  15. B767-300ER
  16. Fokker 100
  17. AN-26
  18. B727
  19. B747-200F
  20. DC-8F
Kam Air B727
A Kam Air B727 in full livery approaching Dubai in 2008. Photo: Konstantin Von Wedelstaedt via Wikimedia.

23 destinations from Kabul in 2021

This year, Kam Air’s network was almost fully from Kabul, with the domestic links to Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, and Kandahar the most-served with over six in ten (63%) flights, Cirium indicates. The top-10 routes are shown below.

  1. Kabul-Mazar-i-Sharif
  2. Kabul-Herat
  3. Kabul-Kandahar
  4. Kabul-Delhi
  5. Kabul-Islamabad
  6. Kabul-Istanbul
  7. Kabul-Tashkent
  8. Kabul-Faizabad
  9. Kabul-Zaranj
  10. Kabul-Jeddah
Kam Air A340-300
The A340-300, which entered Kam Air’s fleet in 2018, has played an important role, especially internationally to Delhi, Jeddah, and Istanbul. Photo: Digitalmarketing111 via Wikimedia.

Multiple aircraft per route

Most routes have seen multiple aircraft deployed, perhaps right-sizing capacity with demand or based on aircraft availability. The 2,237-mile service from Kabul to Istanbul is no exception, with the A340-300, B767-300ER, B737-300, and B737-500 all used this year. With a block time of up to six hours to Turkey, the route is among the longest by Classic Boeing 737s.

What experiences or memories do you have of Kam Air? Let us know in the comments.