Pakistan Airlines halts Kabul flights after Taliban orders price cuts

  • Taliban government ordered Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to cut its air ticket prices.
  • Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is the only international carrier flying regularly out of the Afghanistan’s capital city.
  • The route will remain suspended until “the situation becomes conducive,” according to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

According to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Afghanistan’s Taliban government ordered the airline, the only international carrier flying regularly in and out of Kabul International Airport, to cut airfare prices to the levels of before the fall of the Western-backed Afghan government in August.

In response, Pakistan International Airlines has suspended all its flights to Afghanistan’s capital city, calling interference by the Taliban authorities “heavy-handed”.

“Our flights frequently faced undue delays because of the unprofessional attitude of the Kabul aviation authorities,” Abdullah Hafeez Khan, the PIA spokesman said.

According to PIA, Taliban officials were often “derogatory” and on one occasion “physically manhandled” a staff member.

Kabul route will remain suspended until “the situation becomes conducive,” airline official added.

Earlier, the Taliban informed the Pakistan International Airlines and Afghani carrier Kam Air that their Afghanistan operations will be suspended unless they agreed to cut prices that have spiraled out of the reach of most Afghans since the Taliban takeover.

With most of world’s airlines no longer flying to Afghanistan, tickets for flights to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, have been selling for as much as $2,500 on PIA, according to travel agents in Kabul, compared with $120-$150 before.

The Afghan transport ministry said in a statement that prices on the route should “be adjusted to correspond with the conditions of a ticket before the victory of the Islamic Emirate” or the flights would be stopped.

Flights between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been severely limited since Kabul airport was reopened last month in the wake of the chaotic evacuation of more than 100,000 Westerners and vulnerable Afghans after the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

With a mounting economic crisis adding to worries about Afghanistan’s future under the Taliban, there has been heavy demand for flights out, made worse by repeated problems at land border crossings into Pakistan.

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