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Pakistan's PIA To Restart Islamabad-Kabul Commercial Flights


A spokesman for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) says the airline plans to resume special charter flights to and from Kabul next week in order to help evacuate people who want to leave Afghanistan.

PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez Khan told the AFP news agency on September 11 that the airline had received "all technical clearances for flight operations" to resume.

He said PIA's first special charter flight to Kabul would be an Airbus A320 flying from Islamabad on September 13.

However, PIA said it remained unclear when regular commercial service to and from Kabul would resume.

Even the limited charter service would make it one of the few airlines operating in Afghanistan after the Taliban's takeover.

Khan told the German news agency dpa that the flights should not be seen as a "regular scheduled operation," but rather an "as and when hired" service.

He said PIA had been approached by foreign missions and agencies -- including the United Nations, the European Union, and the and World Bank -- as well as humanitarian and news organizations.

"We are eager to start commercial flight operations to Kabul but it might take some more time," Khan said.

PIA had been one of the only services which operated in the immediate aftermath of the Taliban's takeover of Kabul on August 15.

PIA officials say at least 1,460 people of different nationalities were evacuated by PIA from August 15 to August 22.

But PIA announced on August 22 that it had "temporarily suspended" flights between Kabul and Islamabad due to lack of facilities and "heaps of garbage" on the airstrip.

Pakistani media reports quoted authorities in Islamabad as saying they were concerned that garbage piling up at the Kabul airport could lead to a tragic accident.

A chartered flight by a Qatar Airways jet that carried 200 people from Kabul on September 9 was the first passenger plane to fly out of the Kabul airport since the Taliban took over the facility following the departure of the last U.S. troops there on August 31.

With reporting by AFP, dpa, Reuters, and Geo News
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