First Pakistan International Airlines flight since foreign troop withdrawal lands in Kabul

First Pakistan International Airlines flight since foreign troop withdrawal lands in Kabul

Posted: Sep 13, 2021 10:40 AM
Updated: Sep 13, 2021 10:40 AM

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane from Islamabad touched down in Kabul on Monday morning, according to an airline spokesman.

This marks the first flight to land in Afghanistan from neighboring Pakistan since the chaotic final withdrawal of US troops last month.

PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan said in a statement that the service was a "special flight" to create "goodwill" with the people of Afghanistan and to "strengthen humanitarian efforts."

The spokesman clarified to CNN that this was "not an aid flight." PIA said the flight was handled by the Kabul airport staff and its flight name and number were posted on boards at the airport.

It was not immediately clear whether it could be described as a "commercial" flight, however, as it is unclear whether people were actually able to buy tickets for the plane.

PIA CEO Arshad Malik said the company will "hopefully" be able to restore full services soon.

Along with two Qatar Airways passenger planes, both carrying more than 100 foreign nationals, that departed from Kabul and landed in Doha last week, this flight signals that at least some foreign nationals who want to leave Afghanistan will be able to do so, following weeks of uncertainty.

Civilians have been left scrambling to find safe passage from the country since the Taliban takeover in mid-August threw a US-led evacuation effort into confusion.

The US, along with about 100 other countries, said they will hold the Taliban to their promises that they will allow people to leave the country following the US withdrawal. A return of commercial flights is a key part of that promise.

PIA said the Boeing 777 aircraft departed Islamabad, Pakistan's capital city, at 6:45 a.m. local time after special arrangements had been made by Afghanistan's civil aviation authorities and PIA's staff.

Foreign journalists traveled into the Afghan capital on the flight while employees of the World Bank were brought back to Islamabad on the return leg, the spokesman told CNN. PIA's chief operating officer Air Commodore Jawad Zafar, was also on board.

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