Islamabad: According to a spokesman for Pakistan International Airlines, flights from Islamabad to Kabul will restart next week, making it the first foreign commercial service since the Taliban seized control last month.
The airport in Kabul was extensively damaged during a chaotic evacuation of over 120,000 people that concluded on August 30 with the withdrawal of US forces. With Qatari technical help, the Taliban have been trying to get it operational again.
PIA spokeswoman Abdullah Hafeez Khan told AFP, “We have received all technical permissions for airline operations.”
“On September 13, our first commercial jet […] will travel from Islamabad to Kabul.”
Khan stated that the service will be determined by demand. “We have got 73 requests from humanitarian relief groups and media, which is extremely encouraging,” he added.
Following Kabul’s fall last month, the PIA became the only commercial airline to carry out evacuation operations, assisting diplomats and international nationals fleeing Afghanistan.
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However, on August 24, the airline briefly halted flights to and from Kabul, halting the evacuation effort, alleging a lack of “authorization” after operating seven special flights and repatriating as many as 1,460 passengers, primarily foreigners.
Qatar Airways has conducted two charter flights out of Kabul in the previous two days, transporting primarily foreigners and Afghans who were not evacuated during the evacuation. Last Monday, an Afghan airline started domestic flights.