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Tuesday November 30, 2021

PIA suspends flight operations to Kabul as hundreds crowd airport tarmac

The flight operations to Kabul will remain suspended for an unidentified period, said PIA spokesperson

By Web Desk
August 16, 2021
File photo
File photo

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to ensure the safety of the passengers, their luggage, and its staff members, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Monday suspended Kabul flight operations as a large number of people have gathered at the runway to flee from Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the capital, Geo News reported.

A PIA spokesperson said, “There is no security and staff at the Kabul airport and a large number of people crowded the airport tarmac.”

He maintained that the airline made the decision after holding consultations with the Foreign Ministry and Civil Aviation Authority of Afghanistan. The flight operations to Kabul will remain suspended for an unidentified period, said the spokesperson.

The airline had planned three flights between Islamabad and Kabul today to bring back a large number of Pakistanis and other nationals looking to leave Kabul.

Afghan authorities advise transit aircraft to reroute

Earlier today, the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) said that Kabul airspace had been released to the military and that it advised transit aircraft to reroute, according to a notice to airmen on its website, hastening some airline route switches.

United Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic had already stopped using Afghanistan airspace after insurgents took control of the presidential palace in Kabul as US-led forces departed and Western nations scrambled on Monday to evacuate their citizens.

The ACAA said any transit through Kabul airspace would be uncontrolled and it had advised the surrounding flight information regions that control airspace.

Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 said on its Twitter account that an Air India flight from Chicago to Delhi had changed course and exited Afghanistan's airspace shortly after entering, while a Terra Avia flight from Baku to Delhi was also changing course.

The FAA said flights operating below 26,000 feet were prohibited in the Kabul Flight Information Region, which largely covers Afghanistan, unless operating in and out of Hamid Karzai International Airport, citing the risk "posed by extremist/militant activity."

The restrictions do not apply to US military operations.

Other countries, including Canada, Britain, Germany and France had also advised airlines to maintain an altitude of at least 25,000 feet over Afghanistan, according to website Safe Airspace, which tracks such warnings.

Commercial flights set to land in Afghanistan have also been affected by the chaos on the ground. Emirates has suspended flights to Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, until further notice, the airline said on its website.