First foreign passenger flight from Islamabad lands at Kabul airport 1

First foreign passenger flight from Islamabad lands at Kabul airport

  • Pakistan International Airlines flies to Kabul from Islamabad.
  • It was not clear whether it was a scheduled or charter flight.
  • Around 70 people left Kabul for Pakistani capital on board of PIA flight.

A Pakistan International Airlines flight from Islamabad has become the first foreign passenger flight to land at Kabul airport since the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

PIA passenger jet carrying just a handful of passengers has touched down at Kabul airport today, with “around 10 people … maybe more staff than passengers,” according to one of the people on board.

It was not immediately clear whether the Pakistan International Airlines flight was classified as a scheduled commercial flight or a special commercial charter.

A PIA spokesman said at the weekend the carrier was ready and willing to resume regular commercial services, but it was too soon to say how frequently flights between the Islamabad and Kabul would operate.

Kabul airport was severely damaged during a chaotic evacuation of more than 120,000 people that ended with the withdrawal of US forces on August 30.

Passenger terminals, air bridges and technical infrastructure were badly damaged in the days after the Taliban rolled into Kabul on August 15, when thousands of people stormed the airport in the hope of fleeing the city.

The Taliban has been racing to get the airport operating again with technical assistance from Qatar, Turkey and other nations.

The resumption of commercial flights will be a key test for the terrorist group, who have repeatedly promised to allow Afghans with the right documents to leave the country freely.

Qatar Airways operated several charter flights out of Kabul last week, carrying mostly foreigners and Afghans who missed out on the evacuation.

Ariana Afghan Airlines resumed domestic services on September 3.

The PIA jet made a return flight to Islamabad shortly after landing in Kabul on Monday.

Around 70 people were on the flight to the Pakistani capital, mostly Afghans who were relatives of staffers with international organizations, according to airport ground staff.

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