According to a source knowing the matter, the first international passenger airlift since the last month’s chaotic United States military flight landed on Qatar International Airport on Thursday, carrying over a hundred foreign nationals, including American nationals. The source said that passengers on board the flight that departed from Kabul international airport – including the U.K., Ukrainian, Canadian, the U.S., and German citizens – were among some two hundred foreigners that the Taliban cleared to depart Afghanistan.
The departure of the aircraft is the primary signal that, at last, some foreign citizens who want to leave the country will be able to, after some weeks of uncertainty. Foreign nationals left scrambling to find a safe way from Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover in mid-August threw a United States-led withdrawal effort into confusion. Qatar worked with stakeholders on the ground to transport the nationals in a Qatari group and secure a safe passage to the Afghan capital’s airport. Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked Qatar to facilitate the departure of U.S. citizens from Kabul.
Spoke with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs @MBA_AlThani_ about Qatar’s help facilitating the departure of U.S. citizens from Kabul. We’re grateful for ongoing support.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) September 10, 2021
Live images and pictures showed individuals landing the Qatar Airways Boeing 777 on Thursday. After landing at the Doha International Airport, the people will head to a compound facility at present hosting Afghan citizens and other evacuees. Qatar’s deputy prime minister, Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al-Than, thanked the Taliban leaders for their cooperation in resuming flights, adding that this was a sign that the Taliban’s positive statements could be presented into action.
The U.S. Admired the Cooperation of Taliban for Departing Process
The United States also praised cooperation. Emily Horne, the U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman, said that the Taliban government cooperated efficiently to facilitate the departure of American nationals and U.S. lawful permanent residents on charter flights. In addition, the group showed flexibility, and they showed their flexible and professional behavior in dealing with the U.S. administration for this matter. She called it a positive first step.
According to a source of aviation who spoke to CNN, the Civil Aviation Authority of Afghanistan is preparing for more charter and commercial flights to start operating from the Afghan capital. The source added that both major Afghan airliners Ariana Afghan Airlines and Kam Air decided to restart different routes. Moreover, the aviation source added that the handling company at the Kabul airport would be the same one used for the airport’s closure after the Taliban seizure of Kabul in mid-August.
According to the source, the airport terminal in Kabul is ready for international flights. Earlier in the same day, Taliban and Qatari officials visited the tarmac of the Kabul airport, where the planes of the Qatar Airways Boeing 777 stood. Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaki, the acting foreign minister of Taliban, thanked Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, the Qatari special envoy, for the efforts of his country in resuming flights out of Kabul airport, according to the statement of Taliban from their official account.
The technical team of the Qatari group has been in Afghanistan for the last ten days to help Afghan officials to restore airport operations. During a Thursday press conference, an engineer on the Qatari team said that the Kabul airport was now ninety percent operational. There are some technical issues that they can’t fix, but overall, all the equipment at the airport is working.
Efforts to Repair and Restore Kabul International Airport
The last United States military aircrafts left the Kabul International Airport just one day ahead of the 31st August deadline, marking the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces. That milestone came only around fifteen days after the Taliban captured the Afghan capital. By the time the United States completed its evacuation, over one hundred and twenty-two thousand people in total evacuated from the airport since July, and over six thousand American civilians departed.
Zabiullah Mujahid, the spokesperson of Taliban, said Monday that development on getting Kabul International Airport back to normal had paused because of the damage done to radar facilities. He said that the U.S. forces damaged the radar, and it will take some time to repair. Further, he added that the United States intentionally destroyed definite parts of the airport.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Foreign Minister of Turkey, said Tuesday that Ankara was also working with the U.S. and Qatar on keeping the Kabul airport operational. He adds that they currently have nineteen technicians working at the airport.