Saturday Aug 21, 2021
KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Saturday temporarily suspended Kabul flight operations owing to lack of facilities and heaps of garbage at the Hamid Karzai International Airport’s tarmac.
Sources privy to the development said that there were no immigration officials and security checks at the Kabul airport. Sanitation workers were also not performing their duties since the Taliban took control of the country, the sources added.
The garbage at the airport’s tarmac could cause a tragic accident, feared the sources.
The security of Kabul airport is with the United States, the sources said, adding that they were interested in military aircraft only.
It is pertinent to mention here that PIA was the sole commercial airline that had been operating flights to and from Kabul during the past four days to help in the evacuation of diplomats and foreign nationals.
On Friday, PIA CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik himself accompanied the first flight out to Kabul to boost the morale of the staff.
The PIA chief had held meetings with the staff of the Afghan civil aviation authority and personnel from the NATO forces.
He also accompanied Pakistan's Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan in reviewing PIA's managerial and operational matters at the airport.
According to the PIA spokesperson, so far in five such special flights, around 1,000 passengers have been evacuated from Kabul and brought to Islamabad.
A few days back, a PIA pilot took a risky decision when things began to spiral out of control at the HKIA.
Horrific scenes were witnessed at the Kabul airport when hundreds of people rushed to catch a flight out of Afghanistan with the Taliban on the brink of a complete takeover of the country.
The PIA pilot, Maqsood Bajarani, was also at the airport that day, with a mission to safely bring back to Pakistan 170 people, including diplomats. Inside his Airbus jet, he was waiting for a green signal from the air traffic control to depart, when a swarm of people thronged the runway in an attempt to catch a flight out of the war-torn country on board a US military aircraft.
Another PIA flight, a Boeing 777 took off, but the Airbus had been held back.
Amid the scenes of desperation and panic that unfolded, an unusual announcement was made by the control tower: pilots were told to take their own decisions.
With the unexpected announcement, and faced with a rapidly worsening situation, Bajarani kept his cool, and took off without a moment's delay, right behind fighter jets that took off just then.
Senior officials of the PIA have lauded the timely move by the pilot and his staff, saying that it was a big achievement.