What’s Next for Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport?

September 3, 2021Dustin Jones
kabul airport

US Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load passengers aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III in support of the Afghanistan evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), Afghanistan, Aug. 24, 2021. US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen, courtesy of DVIDS.

On Monday, Aug. 30, US forces evacuated Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, capping a war that lasted two decades and leaving Taliban militias to run Afghanistan.

Shortly after the last US plane left, air traffic over the Asian nation virtually disappeared, raising questions about the ability of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to run the capital’s airport.

Citing a lack of air traffic control services and ongoing security concerns inside Afghanistan, the Federal Aviation Administration bars US civilian aircraft from flying over all but a sliver of the nation.

The United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization, a nonregulatory aviation agency, took a similar approach, advising pilots to bypass the Kabul Area Control Center until Afghanistan regains the ability to direct traffic.

Although Al Jazeera reported Taliban leaders are talking with Qatar and Turkey to get the airport operating again, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that the entire installation must be secured so those who wish to exit Kabul can do so.

On Monday, Afghan Islamic Press named Ahlaj Hamidullah Akhundzada as the new director of Afghanistan’s civil aviation. 

AIP and other outlets indicated the new air boss has urged Afghan pilots who fled the country to return to their duties.

Attempts by Coffee or Die Magazine to confirm those reports with Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen, however, were unsuccessful.

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Dustin Jones
Dustin Jones

Dustin Jones is a former senior staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine covering military and intelligence news. Jones served four years in the Marine Corps with tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. He studied journalism at the University of Colorado and Columbia University. He has worked as a reporter in Southwest Montana and at NPR. A New Hampshire native, Dustin currently resides in Southern California.

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