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Afghanistan: Pakistani airline cancels flights due to Taliban intimidation

by Lester Blair
PIA plane prepares for takeoff at Benazir International Airport in Islamabad - file photo
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Pakistan International Airlines suspended its flights to Kabul from Kabul in Afghanistan due to “heavy-handed interference” by the Taliban.

This decision was taken after the Taliban instructed the airline to reduce prices to the levels before August’s fall of the Western-backed government.

PIA is the sole foreign airline that has operated regular flights from Kabul.

The August price for tickets to Islamabad (the capital of Pakistan) was up to 10x.

In a statement, the Taliban’s Transport Ministry stated that ticket conditions should be adjusted so they correspond to the condition of a ticket prior to the victory of Islam Emirate. $120-150 (£87-110).

The order urged all passengers to immediately report violations, and was directed also at Kam Air in Afghanistan.

It added that airlines could face bans on flights if they fail to comply.

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Abdullah Khan, spokesperson for PIA, said that the company needed to respond to any last-minute amendments made by government officials regarding regulations or flight permits.

Khan also stated that the staff faced intimidation. The representative of the organization was kept at gunpoint for several hour.

The services between these two countries are severely restricted since the international flight resumed last week following the withdrawal of US troops at August’s end.

Khan claimed that insurance premiums had become so expensive that scheduled flights were impossible. The airline decided to resume charter flights on the 13th September because of humanitarian concerns.

Due to a shortage of seats, one-way tickets can now be purchased for up to $1,200

However, some passengers expressed disappointment with PIA’s decision.

These flights are urgently needed. Abdullah from a pharmaceutical company said the border is now closed.

Source: BBC.com

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