UAE firm takes steps to resume international flights at Kabul airport

By Salaam Times and AFP

A passenger walks towards the entrance gate of the airport in Kabul on June 12. [Sahel Arman/AFP]

A passenger walks towards the entrance gate of the airport in Kabul on June 12. [Sahel Arman/AFP]

KABUL -- A United Arab Emirates (UAE) firm signed a contract with Afghanistan on Thursday (September 8) to manage air traffic across the country.

While some flights are operating out of Kabul airport, significant extra support is needed for major foreign airlines to resume full service.

The full operation of the capital's airport is seen as crucial to reviving Afghanistan's shattered economy.

On Thursday, Abu Dhabi-based GAAC signed an agreement that is expected to help bring back major international airlines to Afghanistan.

The contract is part of more than a $300 million investment that GAAC plans to invest in Afghanistan over a 10-year period to develop the country's aviation sector.

The deal enables GAAC to "operationalise airspace to allow the passage of international carriers", Ibrahim Moarafi, the company's regional director, told reporters at a news conference.

It also permits GAAC "to restore the navigation services required for the return of major international airlines to Afghanistan's airports", he said.

This includes air traffic control, communication and surveillance systems, and meteorological services.

3rd pact this year

The agreement is the third signed this year by GAAC with Afghanistan's Ministry of Civil Aviation and Transport.

GAAC, which has long operated in Afghanistan, has already won separate contracts for ground handling services and the screening of passengers at Kabul and other airports.

"Despite our two previous contracts, we still had some vacuum in our operations when it came to guiding flights crossing through Afghanistan's airspace," said Ghulam Jelani Wafa, deputy minister for aviation and transport.

"We were short of equipment, while some equipment was broken, and it [that situation] used to restrict our operations," he added.

Air traffic control at Kabul airport is being handled by a team of Afghans trained by specialists from Uzbekistan and Qatar.

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It is excellent news as, once again, a contract is being made to control Afghanistan's air traffic. Such information should be increased, and quick steps should be taken for the welfare and development of the country. If such contracts are made with anyone, there is no problem, as long as the security of our country and people is safe and sound. Still, it is heartbreaking that Afghanistan currently does not have a radar system, or it is inactive. Although the Acting Minister of Defense of Afghanistan said some time ago that the radar system was destroyed when the Americans left Kabul, it is not essential to us. Now, this system must be activated again. Because every day, the systems and aircraft of other countries, including Pakistan, fly in the airspace of Afghanistan, which is a significant threat to our security. And we can't charge our airspace tax from those cargo planes that fly over Afghanistan, but neither the Afghans nor the government has any information. It is necessary to restore the radar system for our security and interests.


Although the services of Kabul International Airport meet international criteria, the United States and other European countries still use Islamabad Airport to evacuate qualified individuals. They are paying millions of dollars to Pakistan to host Afghans in their country for a few days. Millions of dollars are also spent on Pakistani hotels. The process of evacuating Afghans has become a source of income for Pakistan. I ask the United States and its western allies, who want to evacuate their colleagues from Afghanistan, to use the functional ability in Afghanistan, and not spend money on useless issues, and not fill the coffers of the terrorist state of Pakistan. Thanks


This news is auspicious and encouraging. On one hand, this investment will keep Kabul international airport operational, by which passengers will be able to travel, and commercial goods will be transferred; on the other hand, it proves that Afghanistan is prepared for foreign investment and foreign companies, and they can invest in it safely. Also, I call on the Taliban to provide domestic and foreign investors with the necessary facilities to encourage them to invest in Afghanistan because no country would become prosperous without investment.