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PIA denies reports of resuming commercial flights to Kabul

PIA had temporarily suspended operations to Kabul. Source: PIA.

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has denied reports on resuming commercial flights from Islamabad to Kabul from next week.

The national airline 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.

A spokesperson for the national carrier stated that is 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”. He added that some international organisations and missions in Kabul are regularly in contact with PIA and have requested it to run charter flights.

He said they had actually applied permission for a charter flight permission to Kabul that was taken up by the media and assumed that the PIA is resuming its regular flight operations.

He added the schedule of such flights will be announced only after the finalisation of necessary arrangements. He said the details for charter flights can be sought from the airline’s office in Kabul and Islamabad. The PIA spokesperson added that arrangements have to be in place before flight operations resume.

“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,” the spokesperosn told a news outlet.

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 has refuted media reports and said some statements have been taken out of context.

In late August, the PIA had temporarily suspended its operations to Kabul after the Taliban takeover of the neighbouring country. PIA had operated several special flights and repatriated foreigners stranded in Afghanistan.

The Kabul airport was severely damaged after the Taliban takeover and a chaotic evacuation of over 120,000 people ending with the withdrawal of US forces on August 30.

The Taliban have been struggling to get the airport operational with Qatar and the UAE’s technical assistance. An Afghan airline resumed domestic flights last week.

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.