No commercial flights from Islamabad to Kabul: PIA

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Saturday denied that it would resume commercial flights from Islamabad to Kabul next week. Earlier today, AFP had quoted PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez Khan as saying that the airline had received all technical clearances for flight operations.

The report had quoted him as saying that the first commercial plane was scheduled to fly from Islamabad to Kabul on September 13.

However, the PIA spokesperson later issued a clarification and denied that the airline was resuming commercial flights.

Speaking to Voice of America, he said that there was still some time to go before resuming flight operations, adding that it depends on a multitude of factors on the ground that "are still to be managed".

According to the publication, the PIA spokesperson said that media reports suggesting flights would resume from Monday "had been taken out of context".

He said that some international institutions and missions in the Afghan capital were regularly in contact with PIA and had requested to run charter flights, prompting the airline to seek permission.

“We had actually applied for a charter flight permission to Kabul that was taken up by media and they actually said PIA is now resuming its regular flight operation from Sept 13, which is not the case,” the VOA report quoted him as saying.

According to the PIA spokesperson, “certain arrangements” need to be in place before flight operations could resume.

Kabul airport was severely damaged during a chaotic evacuation of over 120,000 people that ended with the withdrawal of US forces on August 30. The Taliban have been scrambling to get it operating again with Qatari technical assistance.

In the last two days, Qatar Airways has operated two charter flights out of Kabul, carrying mostly foreigners and Afghans who missed being taken out during the evacuation. An Afghan airline resumed domestic flights last week.

The PIA had on Aug 16 suspended its flights to Afghanistan due to the uncertain security situation in the war-ravaged country and the mess prevailing at Kabul airport’s apron.

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