Monday October 25, 2021

PIA suspends Afghan operations for 'unspecified period'

PIA spokesperson says flight operations have been suspended due to the “inappropriate behavior” of Afghan officials

Web Desk
October 14, 2021
PIA suspend its flight operations to Afghanistan. Photo: file
PIA suspend its flight operations to Afghanistan. Photo: file  

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has decided to suspend its flight operations to and from Afghanistan for an "unspecified period".

The suspension came as the Taliban government ordered the airline to cut ticket prices to levels seen before the fall of the Western-backed Afghan government in August.

Confirming the development, a PIA spokesperson said that the flight operations were suspended due to the “inappropriate behavior” of the Afghan officials.

“Last-minute change in decision by the Afghan authorities and unfavorable conditions for foreign airlines in Kabul were also key reasons behind the decision," said the spokesperson.

PIA’s aircrafts will not fly to Kabul without insurance, he added.

Earlier, the Taliban warned PIA and Afghan carrier Kam Air that their Afghan operations risked being blocked unless they agreed to cut ticket prices, which have reached levels increasingly out of reach for most Afghans.

With most international airlines no longer flying to Afghanistan, tickets for flights to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, have been selling for as much as $2,500 on PIA, according to travel agents in Kabul, compared with $120-$150 before.

The Afghan transport ministry said in a statement prices on the route should "be adjusted to correspond with the conditions of a ticket before the victory of the Islamic Emirate" or the flights would be stopped.

It urged passengers and others to report any violations.

Flights between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been severely limited since Kabul airport was reopened last month in the wake of the chaotic evacuation of more than 100,000 Westerners and vulnerable Afghans following the Taliban victory.

PIA said that ever since the new Taliban government was formed, its staff in Kabul had faced last-minute changes in regulations and flight permissions and "highly intimidating behaviour" from Taliban commanders.