Kam Air, an Afghan airline company, loses over $6.5 million a week as local flights have stopped due to the spread of the coronavirus and the implementation of a lockdown in Afghanistan’s major cities, said airline officials.
The lockdown has been in place over the last five weeks, and government authorities have said it will continue until at least the end of this month.
Previously, the company had 119 local and international flights every week, said officials, but now all have stopped.
The company is now struggling to cover its payroll, property rental costs, and other expenses, said Sulaiman Omar, the deputy head of the company.
“This is damaging the company,” Omar said.
International flights by Afghan airliners reduced gradually to zero over the last two months while local flights were halted earlier this week, by order of the civil aviation authority.
“All countries around the world have helped the aviation sector, but no attention has been paid to this sector in Afghanistan so far,” said Khan Jan Alokozay, a member of the Chamber of Commerce and Investment. “Two other three (airline) companies have remained in Afghanistan. They are the pride of our country and they should be supported; otherwise, they will be bankrupted.”
Tourist companies have also been affected after a halt in local and international flights.
“It will create a crisis if the government pays no attention to the tourism and aviation sectors,” said Massoud Bina, deputy head of a tourism company association.
Aviation companies have called for tax exemptions and installment-based tax payments from the Ministry of Finance. Officials responded there is "room" for the government to cooperate.
“The Ministry of Finance does not have the authority to exempt taxes but there is room for support and cooperation on installment-based tax payments and exempting taxes fines within the framework of the law,” the Finance Ministry spokesman Shamroz Khan Masjidi said. “We will see what cooperation we can provide.”
According to the civil aviation authority, the revenue of the government institution has been reduced by $1.5 million in recent weeks following the coronavirus outbreak and the halt in national and international flights.