Pakistan airline suspends flights to Kabul after Taliban’s ‘heavy-handed’ interference

Citing “heavy-handed” interference by the Taliban and arbitrary rule changes, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suspended flights to Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Thursday. 

“We are suspending our flight operations to Kabul from today because of the heavy-handedness of the authorities,” a spokesperson of the PIA was quoted as saying by Reuters

The move comes after the Taliban government ordered the airline, the only international company operating regularly out of Kabul, to cut ticket prices to levels to the pre-15 August rates. 

The Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) also threatened to stop flights between Kabul and Islamabad if the airlines do not cut ticket prices, which have increased to levels out of reach for most Afghans.

With most international 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 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.

It urged passengers and others to report any violations.

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 1,00,000 Westerners and vulnerable Afghans following the Taliban victory.

PIA said that ever since the new Taliban government was formed, its staff in Kabul had faced last-minute changes in regulations and flight permissions and “highly intimidating behaviour” from Taliban commanders.

It said its country representative had been held at gunpoint for hours at one point and was only freed after the Pakistan embassy in Kabul intervened.

With a mounting economic crisis adding to worries about Afghanistan’s future under the Taliban, there has been heavy demand for flights out and the main passport office in Kabul has been besieged by people trying to get travel documents since it reopened this month.

Demand for flights has been further pushed by repeated difficulties at land border crossings into Pakistan.

With inputs from agencies. 

 

Subscribe to Mint Newsletters

* Enter a valid email

* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Never miss a story! Stay connected and informed with Mint.
Download
our App Now!!

Source link

Leave a Comment