Home Latest News PIA Suspends Flights to-and-from Kabul

PIA Suspends Flights to-and-from Kabul

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo. Farooq Naeem—AFP

In statement, national flag carrier blames ‘unprofessional’ attitude of Taliban government for decision

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Thursday announced it is suspending all flight operations to-and-from Afghanistan over the “unprofessional and heavy-handed attitude” of the new Taliban government.

“Our flights frequently faced undue delays because of the unprofessional attitude of the Kabul aviation authorities,” Abdullah Hafeez Khan, the PIA spokesman, told the AFP news agency. He said the route would remain suspended until “the situation becomes conducive.”

In a separate statement, the national flag carrier emphasized that PIA had continued its flights to Afghanistan when all other airlines had ceased their operations. It said that despite working under these “difficult” condition, the new Taliban government had subjected its staff in Kabul to last-minute changes in regulations and flight permissions, and intimidating behavior from Taliban commanders.

Listing a charge-sheet against the Taliban regime, PIA said that Afghan civil aviation officials often arbitrarily violated international rules and regulations. It stressed that the flag carrier had decided to continue flights to Kabul solely on humanitarian grounds, but the situation had become untenable.

Responding to PIA’s decision, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the Afghan government would investigate reports of the alleged mistreatment of PIA officials and passengers by authorities at Kabul international airport. “We will investigate reports of maltreatment and will rectify it. All companies and businesses are very important for us. We adopt a positive approach [towards] Pakistani businesses,” he told daily Dawn.

The suspension of PIA flight operations comes amidst demands by the Taliban government for the airline to reduce fares on flights between Kabul and Islamabad or risk a ban. A letter from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation asked the PIA—as well as private Afghan airline Kam Air—to restore their fares to their pre-Aug. 15 levels, when the Taliban took over Kabul. Reportedly, the airlines are operating charter flights, rather than commercial ones, resulting in massive increases to fares over their pre-August levels.

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