The Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) is seeking to gradually take full control of responsibilities for air control operations and maintenance at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Currently, these tasks are run in part by international personnel, who are expected to be withdrawn in the next few months.
In a letter dated April 19, 2021, the ACAA has asked NATO’s Resolute Support forces to hand over the responsibility of the operations for the Control Tower at the airport as a first step by May 1, 2021, and “subsequently commence practical negotiations on Mission Essential Equipment on Hamid Karzai International Airport ground to discuss the handover of resources upon complete NATO/RS withdrawal.”
Air traffic control, firefighting, safety and meteorology are some of the tasks controlled by NATO forces.
If implemented, the decision will cut aviation costs by 50%, Afghan officials predict.
ACAA officials said they expect the handover process to begin in the near future. According to the officials, at least 60 million is invested in aviation services every year.
“We have human resources (for the operations) in various areas. Our first question was about the control tower, which is now under foreign forces' control. We have asked them to hand it over to ACAA in the first step,” said Amanzib Ansari, the deputy head of the ACAA.
Mahmoud Shah Habibi, the head of the Afghanistan Aviation Support Association, a non-profit organization in Kabul, said operations in all major airports in the country are controlled by foreign forces, therefore, there is a need for required preparations when it comes to the transition of the responsibilities.
“Lots of resources are often needed for the aviation sector. There should be a budget for it and procedures should be created,” Habibi said.
Hamid Karzai International Airport is one of the biggest airports in the country and at least 1,000 passengers travel through the airport every day.