PIA Waiting Afghan authorization to continue flights

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RAWALPINDI: Pakistan International Airlines, the sole commercial airline that conducted flights from Kabul since the Taliban takeover of the Afghan capital to different cities of Afghanistan, has placed on hold its operations and is expecting Afghan authorities’ permission to resume flights to Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif and other cities.

The PIA has received requests from 7,000 to 8,000 Afghan nationals — including journalists, employees of multinational companies, UN workers et al. — who want to go away Afghanistan for European Union countries, Canada and therefore the US.

A spokesman for PIA confirmed that the ensign carrier had received requests from seven to eight thousand people that wanted to go away Afghanistan but thanks to uncertain security and administration situation at Kabul airport, the PIA couldn’t operate flights to Afghanistan’s capital.

“There are not any ATC, radar and other facilities to work commercial flights to Kabul and, therefore, the PIA flights are placed on hold,” the spokesman said.

The Pakistan International Airlines operated seven special flights and repatriated 1,460 foreigners stranded in Afghanistan since Taliban captured Kabul, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, more flights couldn’t be operated albeit three planes and staff were able to fly to Kabul.

Due to Taliban’s ban on Afghan nationals to go away the country, the PIA didn’t operate special flights and instead the ensign carrier asked travellers to succeed in Kabul airport on their own. The PIA would send planes there to repatriate people because the airline couldn’t take responsibility for bringing passengers to the airport.

“The Taliban don’t need a drain and that they have already announced an amnesty for Afghan people. However, they need allowed foreigners to go away Afghanistan for his or her home countries,” the spokesman said.

The European Union and Asian Development Bank have sought help from Pakistan International Airlines to evacuate their employees from Afghanistan.

They have requested the CEO of PIA and Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan to send a special aircraft on humanitarian grounds for evacuation of members of an EU delegation and their dependents who are stranded in Kabul.

Following these requests, the PIA planned to run three special flights to Kabul on Monday, but the schedule had to be cancelled due to lack of “permission” from Taliban authorities in Kabul.

The mass evacuation plan for foreigners couldn’t be started even on Saturday thanks to unknown reasons. However, preparations for accommodating transit and other passengers in three different hotels of Rawalpindi are made with tightened security.

Pakistan has offered 21-day transit visas to foreign nationals leaving Afghanistan and it’s making necessary arrangements to host them during that period. The foreigners staying in Pakistani hotels will need to bear their expenses.

After the bombing near Kabul airport, the international community has started evacuation of foreigners and Afghan nationals through military planes and lots of foreign nationals are using Islamabad as a transit facility before departing for his or her respective countries.

Meanwhile, the International fund (IMF) has appreciated Pakistan’s efforts amid extremely difficult and sophisticated circumstances for helping the IMF staff and securing a corridor for them to the airport and their evacuation from Afghanistan.

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