Almost two weeks have passed since Afghan aviation companies announced a near-total shutdown of international flights, but some foreign companies are still flying in and out of Afghanistan.
According to the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA), Afghan companies Ariana Airlines and Kam Air now only have flights from Dubai and Pakistan. And Pakistan has also imposed restrictions on the transit of goods flown in from Afghan airline companies, said ACAA.
But the head of the authority, Mohammad Qasim Wafaeezada, said foreign airline companies, primarily those based in the UAE, are conducting their flights to Kabul from the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Iran and Islamabad. But the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority recently announced that it will ban flights by Iran’s Mahan Air because of the coronavirus and flights by other companies to Iran have not been banned.
Wafaeezadad said that domestic flights are normal.
But business has decreased on local flights, too, as many Afghans previously took domestic flights to connect with international flights.
“Restrictions were imposed on flights due to the coronavirus and required all flights to have credible health certificates,” Wafazeezada said, referring to the ban on Afghan airliners, including Kam Air and Ariana Airlines, by foreign countries.
India's travel ban is of particular concern because it is a popular destination for Afghans, many of whom travel there for medical care.
India’s External Affairs Ministry in a statement on March 19 said “no scheduled commercial passenger aircraft shall be allowed to land in India from March 22 for one week.”
A video posted last week on social media showed an Afghan man stuck in India for medical treatment and who needed to return home.
But on Friday the Afghan chargé d'affaires in India, Tahir Qadiry, told TOLOnews that the restrictions by India are on all flights, including Afghanistan, to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“Our Indian colleagues say that they have closed all their borders for the safety and health of their people,” Qadiry said. “Even state borders (Indian states) have been closed. For instance, on Sunday, Indian Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) announced restrictions on movements in the city, and from March 22, no foreign flight will be allowed to land in India for a week.”
“There is a need for some efforts regarding this issue because aviation companies are suffering huge losses--the government is obliged to help these companies,” said economic analyst Qais Mohammadi.