Domestic flights were set to resume in Afghanistan on Friday, the country’s flag carrier Ariana Afghan Airlines said.
“We have received a green light from the Taliban and aviation authorities and plan to start flights today,” Tamim Ahmadi, a senior manager with the airline told AFP.
A Qatari aircraft landed in Kabul Wednesday carrying a technical team to discuss the resumption of airport operations after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
The source said that the goal was to resume flights for both humanitarian aid and to provide freedom of movement, including the resumption of evacuation efforts.
Both domestic and international flights from Afghanistan have been disrupted since the Taliban took over capital Kabul on August 15.
United Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic stopped using Afghanistan airspace on August 15 as US-led forces departed and Western nations scrambled to evacuate citizens.
On August 16, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Taiwan’s China Airlines, Air France KLM and Lufthansa followed suit.
In Air France’s case, six routes were affected: Bangkok, Delhi, Singapore, Mumbai, Madras and Ho Chi Minh.
Lufthansa said flight times to India and some other destinations will be extended by up to one hour, in a move that will add to fuel costs.
In a notice to airmen on its website on August 16, the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) said any transit through Kabul airspace - which covers all Afghanistan - would be uncontrolled.
“Kabul airspace has been released to the military. Advise transit aircraft to reroute,” the notice said, without specifying precisely which military given the collapse of local security forces in the face of the Taliban offensive.
“Any transit through Kabul airspace will be uncontrolled. Surrounding FIRs (air traffic control regions) have been advised.”
Some flights turned around right after the announcement. Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed an Air India flight from Chicago to Delhi changed course and exited Afghanistan’s airspace shortly after entering, while a Terra Avia flight from Baku to Delhi did the same.
The Air India flight later diverted to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates for more fuel, FlightRadar24 said.
More than 123,000 foreign nationals and Afghans fled the country in a frenzied airlift operation that wound up on Tuesday, but many more are desperate to depart.
US officials have said Kabul airport is in a bad condition, with much of its basic infrastructure degraded or destroyed.