March 26, 2023

For the reason that US and its allies withdrew their forces from Afghanistan on August thirty first final 12 months, the Afghan airspace has remained underneath the Taliban’s management and was successfully closed to overflights. The airspace was categorized as uncontrolled, with solely a handful of flights working out of Afghanistan’s Kabul Worldwide Airport.

Given the important significance of the aviation business and the way it might revive Afghanistan’s crippling economic system, the Taliban is in search of to broaden for extra worldwide flight operations. Nevertheless, further assist is required to handle the nation’s huge airspace and the overwhelming air site visitors ensuing from main overseas carriers resuming full flight companies to Kabul Airport.


Who would be the new operator?

On September eighth, the Taliban introduced the signing of the third and last main contract for operating Afghanistan’s airports with an Abu Dhabi-based agency, GAAC Holding. The three airports coated underneath the settlement are Kabul Airport, Ahmad Shah Baba Worldwide Airport, and Khwaja Abdulla Ansari Worldwide Airport.

The ultimate settlement is anticipated to carry again vital worldwide carriers to Afghanistan and is a part of greater than $300 million that GAAC goals to spend money on the nation over a 10-year interval to develop its aviation business. Ghulam Jilani Wafa, Deputy Head of the Civil Aviation of Afghanistan, stated:

“Regardless of our two earlier contracts, we nonetheless had some vacuum in our operations when it got here to guiding flights crossing via Afghanistan’s airspace. We have been in need of tools, whereas some tools was damaged, and it restricts our operations.”

Air site visitors management at Kabul Airport is at present being dealt with by a group of Afghans educated by specialists from Qatar and Uzbekistan. Photograph: 
N509FZ through Wikimedia Commons

The primary settlement was signed in March and coated ground-handling companies after months of talks between the Taliban and the UAE, Turkey, and Qatar. Turkey and Qatar have been initially supposedly in line to run the airports. There was additionally a risk of a joint UAE-Turkey-Qatar deal to run the airports. Sadly, the agreements with Turkey and Qatar went sideways after the Taliban rejected their necessities for having their very own safety personnel stationed on the airports.

The second settlement was signed in Might, enabling the GAAC to cowl the safety of Afghanistan’s airports, such because the screening of passengers. Total, the deal will enable GAAC to operationalize Afghanistan’s airspace and restore the navigation companies. This would come with air site visitors management, communication, surveillance techniques, and meteorological companies. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Afghanistan’s Deputy Prime Minister, stated:

“At present’s deal-signing ceremony in Kabul strengthens the economic system, which is a precedence for the federal government. This settlement will positively have an effect on commerce and financial progress of this nation by way of job creation.”

What does this imply for airways?

The arrival of GAAC to avoid wasting Afghanistan’s aviation business would possibly raise the extended uncertainty weighed on business airline operations. Earlier than the Taliban took over, eight airways served Kabul Airport, together with Air Arabia, Air India, Ariana Afghan Airways, Emirates, flydubai, Kam Air, Pakistan Worldwide Airways, and Turkish Airways. Earlier than dropping their companies, Emirates was one of many extra frequent fliers with day by day companies into the airport, as was Air Arabia.

On common, greater than 1,200 flights touched down at Kabul Airport earlier than the Taliban took over. Most have been primarily operated by native privately-owned Kam Air, adopted by government-owned Ariana Afghan Airways. Notably, Kam Air flew fairly a handful of worldwide locations, equivalent to Ankara, Delhi, Dushanbe, Islamabad, Kuwait, Medina, and Tashkent. Ariana Afghan’s international community was related, together with Ankara, Delhi, Dubai, Istanbul, Jeddah, and Urumqi.

Hopefully, the presence and funding from GAAC will assist to revive Kabul Airport and make Afghanistan’s airspace comparatively secure and environment friendly for worldwide carriers to return. Nevertheless, it might be attention-grabbing to see which overseas service will return. Turkish Airways could possibly be a particular return, seeing as how the nationwide service even elevated its capability to Afghanistan throughout the pandemic. Emirates, flydubai, and Air Arabia may additionally return, although any future developments stay to be seen.

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Supply: Reuters

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