Sunday Sep 12, 2021
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) clarified on Saturday that media reports suggesting commercial flights from Islamabad to Kabul are resuming from Monday, are false.
The PIA added that it was "keen and all geared up to restart" commercial flights from Islamabad to Kabul, however, a final decision has not been made in this regard, stated a report in The News.
Abdullah Khan, a spokesperson for the national flag carrier, stated that there is some time before flight operations to Kabul resume. He said flights to and from Kabul depend on "a lot of factors on the ground that are still to be managed."
He explained that media reports suggesting the flights would resume beginning Monday have been taken out of context.
Khan added that some international institutions and missions in Kabul are regularly in contact with the PIA and have requested it to run charter flights, prompting the airline to seek permission to do that.
"We had actually applied for a charter flight permission to Kabul that was taken up by the media and they said that the PIA is now resuming its regular flight operations from September 13, which is not the case,” Khan clarified.
"The schedule of such flights will be announced only after the finalisation of necessary arrangements," Khan said, adding that details for charter flights can be sought from the airline's office in Kabul and Islamabad.
The PIA spokesperson added that "certain arrangements" have to be in place before flight operations resume, however, the arrangements are not in place yet. Khan did not elaborate on the nature of the arrangements.
In late August, the PIA had temporarily suspended its operations to Kabul, officials had reported.
Following the Taliban takeover and a chaotic evacuation of over 120,000 people ending with the US forces withdrawal on August 30, the Kabul airport was severely damaged.
The Taliban, since then, have been struggling to get the airport operational with Qatar and the UAE's technical assistance. An Afghan airline resumed domestic flights last week.
PIA, following the takeover, operated several special flights and repatriated foreigners stranded in Afghanistan.
Qatar Airways began operating charter flights out of Kabul this week, carrying foreign nationals who were unable to secure a place on any of the emergency airlifts to leave the country.
“We have received 73 requests from humanitarian relief agencies and journalists, which is very encouraging. We had actually applied for a charter flight permission to Kabul that was taken up by media and interpreted to say that PIA is now resuming its regular flight operations from September 13. This is not the case,” Khan clarified.
Earlier, media reports had claimed that the PIA will resume flights from Islamabad to Kabul next week, becoming the first foreign commercial service to do so since the Taliban seized power last month.
The PIA, however, has refuted media reports and said some statements have been taken out of context.