Monday Aug 16 2021
By ,
Web Desk

Chaos at Kabul airport: PIA suspends flight operations over security concerns

By ,
Web Desk

  • Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Monday suspended its Kabul  flight operations over security concerns.
  • The decision is aimed at protecting the passengers, their assets, and the staff, says a spokesperson.
  • “There is no security and staff at the Kabul airport," says the official. 

 ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Monday suspended Kabul flight operations over security concerns as a large number of people gathered at the runway to flee from Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of the capital.

A spokesperson of the national flag carrier said, “There is no security and staff at the Kabul airport and a large number of people have gathered at the runway.”

He maintained that the airline made the decision after holding consultations with the Foreign Ministry and Civil Aviation Authority of Afghanistan. The decision is aimed at protecting the passengers, their assets, and the staff, he added.

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.

Afghanistan's CAA advises 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.

PIA planes stuck at Kabul airport arrive in Islamabad 

Two PIA aircraft that had been stuck at Kabul airport with a total of 499 passengers on board, were finally permitted to fly and arrived in Islamabad on Sunday.

One was a Boeing 777 which had 329 passengers, while the other was an Airbus 320 with 170 passengers.

Earlier, the aircraft were not being allowed the use of the runway to take off as the US military evacuated American diplomats.

Kabul airport sources had told Geo News that two helicopters belonging to the US military were blocking the runway.

The sources had said that the Kabul airport's air traffic control "has no control over what is happening". "All air traffic is being controlled by the US army soldiers," they had added.