- Qatar Airways flies international passengers out of Kabul Airport.
- Qatari official deems Kabul Airport operational.
- Taliban allows foreigners leave Afghanistan on commercial flights.
With a top Qatari official announcing that Kabul airport is “fully up and running,” first international passenger flight has departed from Hamid Karzai International Airport today.
This was the first commercial flight to depart from HKIA since the Western countries ended their evacuation flights from Afghanistan a week and a half ago.
According to Mutlaq al-Qahtani, Qatar’s special envoy to Afghanistan, who was speaking from the tarmac today, the airport is “about 90% ready for operations,” but its reopening is planned gradually.
“This is a historic day in the history of Afghanistan as Kabul airport is fully operational. We have been faced by huge challenges … but we can now say that the airport is fit for navigation,” al-Qahtani said.
“Call it what you want, a charter or a commercial flight, everyone has a ticket and boarding passes,” al-Qahtani stated, implying that this was indeed a regular flight. He said another flight was due to leave on Friday. “Hopefully, life is becoming normal in Afghanistan,” he added.
Qatari officials earlier said that Afghanistan’s Taliban government would allow between 100 and 150 Westerners, including Americans, to fly out from Kabul in the coming hours.
Qatari and Turkish technical teams have helped restore operations at the airport, which was damaged during the chaotic evacuations of tens of thousands of people to meet the US troop withdrawal deadline of August 31.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid thanked Qatar for its assistance in making the airport operational and for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
“In the very near future, the airport will be ready for all sorts of flights including commercial flights,” he said, standing beside Qatari officials at the airport tarmac.