No decision on commercial flights to Kabul yet, Pakistan's PIA clarifies

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Pakistan - The airline has only applied for permission to operate charter flights so far



by

Muzaffar Rizvi

Published: Sat 11 Sep 2021, 4:09 PM

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Saturday said the airline is keen to resume its regular flight operations to Kabul, but the matter will take time and remains subject to clearance by relevant authorities.

In a statement to Khaleej Times, a PIA spokesperson said the airline has been approached by a few organisations to operate charter flights and it has sought permission for the same, but there are certain arrangements that need to be finalised before it can do so.

“The schedule of such flights will be announced only after finalisation of necessary arrangements,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan said, adding that details for charter flights can be sought from the airline's office in Kabul and Islamabad.

Earlier, news agency AFP reported that PIA will resume flights from Islamabad to Kabul next week, becoming the first foreign commercial service to do so since the Taliban seized power last month.

Kabul airport was severely damaged during a chaotic evacuation of over 120,000 people that ended with the withdrawal of US forces on August 30.

“We have got all technical clearances for flight operations. Our first commercial plane... is scheduled to fly from Islamabad to Kabul on September 13,” AFP had quoted Khan as saying.

In the last two days, Qatar Airways has operated two charter flights out of Kabul, carrying mostly foreigners and Afghans who were left behind during the evacuation.

An Afghan airline resumed domestic flights last week.

Khan refuted media reports suggesting flight operations would resume from September 13 and said some statements have been taken out of context.

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“Some international institutions and missions in the Afghan capital are regularly in contact with us and have requested to run charter flights, prompting the airline to seek permission to do that,” he said.

“We have received 73 requests from humanitarian relief agencies and journalists, which is very encouraging. We had actually applied for a charter flight permission to Kabul that was taken up by media and interpreted to say that PIA is now resuming its regular flight operations from September 13. This is not the case,” Khan clarified.


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