Wednesday Aug 18 2021

PIA plane stuck at Kabul airport; unlikely to fly out tonight: sources

A Pakistan International Airlines aircraft is stuck at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, and it appears it will be unable to fly back tonight, sources within the airline told Geo News on Wednesday.

According to the sources, a Boeing 777 aircraft, flown by Captain Hasnat, left Islamabad and arrived in Kabul on Wednesday evening to bring back passengers.

The Kabul airport has been closed to commercial flights for the past two days and sources said that PIA's PK-6249 flight was the sole one to arrive in the city.

The sources added that permission from several agencies has to be sought before flying.

The International Federation of Airline Pilots Association (IFALPA) issued a notice today that there is no air traffic service available at Kabul Airport, according to a safety bulletin seen by Geo News.

The notice to airmen will remain in effect till August 20.

The decision to send an airplane despite the NOTAM has raised several questions.

The sources said that since commercial flights do not operate at night at the Kabul airport, it is unlikely that the aircraft will be able to depart tonight. It will remain there overnight and fly in the early morning hours.

It bears mentioning here that just two days ago, a PIA aircraft was able to miraculously fly back safely from Kabul to Islamabad after chaos descended at the airport, with swarms of people clinging on to a US military airplane in a desperate attempt to escape the country, as the Taliban took control of the capital.

Read more: What one PIA pilot did amid scenes of horror unfolding at Kabul airport

With the sudden collapse of the Afghan government, the US military, which plans to evacuate more than 30,000 people by August 31, has taken over air traffic control and flight coordination at the airport.

Meanwhile, PIA said that they continue to remain in touch with authorities at the airport to secure permission to take off.

A PIA spokesperson said that special permission from the management had been sought to operate the flight. "A high level decision was taken based on the need (to bring back more passengers)," the spokesperson said.