ISLAMABAD (AP) — Officials from Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban on Wednesday welcomed the resumption of FlyDubai flights to Kabul’s international airport two years after stopping service following the collapse of the Western-backed government.
All international airlines halted flights to Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in mid-August 2021 as U.S. and NATO forces departed after two decades of war.
A United Arab Emirates-based FlyDubai flight landed in Kabul on Wednesday. FlyDubai, the sister carrier of long-haul airline Emirates, now will make two flights a day to Kabul.
The office of the Taliban’s deputy prime minister, Abdul Ghani Baradar, in a statement Wednesday described the flight resumption as “indicative of the restoration of Afghanistan’s airspace to a secure and conventional state, accommodating various types of flights.” However, nearly all Western carriers are avoiding flying in Afghan airspace.
“It shows that all airports in Afghanistan are now equipped to deliver requisite facilities and adhere to standard services,” said the statement.
FlyDubai, when asked for comment, referred to an October statement announcing that flights would resume. It did not discuss any of the security concerns related to operating in the country.
In May last year, the Taliban signed a deal allowing an Emirati company to manage three airports in Afghanistan. Under the agreement, the Abu Dhabi-based firm GAAC Solutions would manage the airports in Herat, Kabul and Kandahar.
Two Afghan airlines, Kam Air and Ariana Afghan Airlines, operate from Kabul to destinations such as Dubai, Moscow, Islamabad and Istanbul.
The resumption of flights came after Associated Press journalists on Monday saw Afghanistan’s Taliban envoy to the UAE, Badruddin Haqqani, walk through an Airbus A380 looking at its business class seats at the Dubai Air Show. He was recently appointed to the position in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.
The Emirates, long aligned with the U.S., has hosted Afghan diplomatic posts for years under both the Taliban and its former Western-backed government. Afghanistan’s former president, Ashraf Ghani, had been seen in the country immediately after fleeing the Taliban advance in 2021.
Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.