Arab News Headlines

Pakistan Airline Denies Plans to Resume Flights to Kabul Monday

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) said Saturday it was “keen and all geared up to restart” commercial flights from Islamabad to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, but no final decision has been made.

A spokesman for the national carrier, Abdullah Khan, told VOA there is some way to go before resuming the flight operation, as it depends on “a lot of factors on the ground that are still to be managed.”

Khan said that media reports suggesting the flights would resume beginning Monday have been taken out of context. He explained that some international institutions and missions in the Afghan capital are regularly in contact with PIA and have requested to run charter flights, prompting the airline to seek permission do that.

“We had actually applied for a charter flight permission to Kabul that was taken up by media and they actually said PIA is now resuming its regular flight operation from Sept 13, which is not the case,” Khan clarified.

He said “certain arrangements” have to be in place before the flight operation could actually resume and those arrangements are not in place yet.” The PIA spokesman did not elaborate further.

Kabul’s international airport was severely damaged during a chaotic emergency evacuation of more than 120,000 people, including American and Western nationals, that ended with the withdrawal of US forces just before midnight local time on August 30.

The Taliban, who regained power in Kabul on August 15, have been scrambling to get the airport operating again with technical assistance from Qatar and the UAE. An Afghan airline resumed domestic flights last week.

Qatar Airways has operated charter flights out of Kabul this week, carrying more than 250 foreign nationals. The passengers, including dozens of Americans, were unable to catch the chaotic emergency airlifts to leave the country.

Humanitarian crisis

Meanwhile, officials said Saturday that a third flight carrying relief assistance from the Pakistani government landed in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has dispatched the humanitarian assistance, including food and medicines, and plans to send more in coming days to help the Taliban government in meeting critical humanitarian needs of the Afghan people.

The United Nations says Afghanistan’s children, women and men have faced decades of conflict and deprivation, urgently needing food, medicine, health services and other essential commodities.

Source: Voice of America