First commercial flight to Kabul under the Taliban

A Pakistani plane carrying 10 people landed at Kabul airport today, becoming the first international commercial flight since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

“There were almost no people on the plane. About 10 people, maybe the airline staff more than the guests,” AFP reporter on a flight of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) from Islamabad, Pakistan to Kabul. Afghanistan, said.

First commercial flight to Kabul under the Taliban

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight landed at Kabul airport, Afghanistan today. Videos: Videos: AFP.

An airport employee said it was a momentous moment and a “hopeful” day. “Maybe other airlines will see and decide to operate again,” this person said.

A bus with the words “Welcome to Afghanistan” was waiting to take passengers from the plane to the terminal, but the people ended up walking on foot. About 100 passengers were waiting to catch a flight back to Islamabad, most of them relatives of staff from international organizations such as the World Bank.

A PIA spokesman said over the weekend that the airline wanted to resume normal commercial services to Kabul, but it was too early to say how often flights between the two capitals would operate.

Kabul airport was severely damaged during the chaotic evacuation of more than 120,000 people, which ended with the completion of the US withdrawal on August 30. The Taliban are trying to get the airport back up and running with technical assistance from Qatar and other countries.

Qatar Airways operated a number of charter flights out of Kabul last week, carrying mainly foreigners and Afghans who missed the evacuation flight. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also established an air route to the airport to deliver tons of aid to Afghanistan.

An Afghan airline resumed domestic flights on September 3. The police force of the former Afghan government yesterday returned to Kabul airport, performing a security mission with the Taliban.

The resumption of commercial flights will be an important test for the Taliban, who have repeatedly pledged to allow properly documented Afghans to leave the country freely. Many NATO countries admit that thousands of displaced Afghans are still trapped before the evacuation operation ends under the agreement of the US and the Taliban.

Huyen Le (Follow AFP)

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