Afghanistan’s largest and oldest state-operated carrier, Ariana Afghan Airlines, has announced that limited domestic flights have resumed at Hamid Karzai International Airport a mere week after the last US military plane exited, ending the 20-year long US war and occupation.
“Ariana Afghan Airlines is proud to resume its domestic flights,” the company announced on Facebook, according to Reuters. It identified that starting Saturday it resumed flights between select cities in the north, west, and south – namely Mazar-i Sharif, Herat, and Kandahar.
A technical team deployed to the airport by Qatar had helped ready the airport to resume operations, in particular to get humanitarian aid flying into the war-torn country. Turkey is reportedly also involved in assisting with getting the airport operational once again.
However, as The Hill highlights “The airport is operating without radar or navigation systems,” which is serving to make “international civilian flights more difficult to resume.”
At the end of last week a senior manager with Ariana, Tamim Ahmadi, was quoted in AFP as saying, “We have received a green light from the Taliban and aviation authorities and plan to start flights today.”
NATO countries who formerly had large amounts of personnel inside Afghanistan also have a pressing interest to see the airport resume operations, given they hope to see all their citizenry which may have been stuck behind in the initial hasty US evacuation effort finally make it out.
The Taliban has vowed to allow any especially Westerner who wants to leave the country safe passage to the the airport. The US State Department has estimated the number of Americans who remain to be 200, but probably more like 100, according to recent statements last week.