- Air Arabia and Jazeera Airways are set to resume flights to Kabul, increasing the total number of international carriers operating at the airport to three.
- The Afghan Ministry of Transport is optimistic that more carriers will resume operations at airports across Afghanistan.
- The re-establishment of international service in Afghanistan is driven by leisure travel, not business travel. International legacy carriers have yet to plan service resumption.
Air Arabia, a low-cost carrier based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, will resume flights to Kabul International Airport (KBL) from its hub at Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) on January 10. Services from non-Afghan airlines were suspended for two years, following a regime change in the Central Asian nation.
According to the Afghan Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, Kuwaiti low-cost carrier Jazeera Airways is set to begin international service to Kabul shortly after Air Arabia touches down in the nation. Recently, Dubai-based low-cost carrier FlyDubai became the first international carrier to begin flying to Afghanistan after flights from international airlines were suspended back in 2021.
Ariana Afghan Airlines, the nation’s flag carrier, and Kam Air, the country’s largest privately owned airline, both provide service to several international destinations from KBL. Once Jazeera Airways and Air Arabia commence operations, the total number of international carriers operating at Kabul’s airport will be three, a far cry from the six that previously flew to the capital city.
An interesting resumption
The Ministry of Transport is also excited about the service resumption. In a statement reported by TOLOnews, ministry spokesman Imamuddin Ahmadi had the following words to share regarding the announcement:
“Air Arabia has also asked to start flights with Afghanistan from Kabul, their demand has also been accepted, and in the near future their flights will start. In the meantime, Jazeera Airways has also demanded to start direct flights from Afghanistan.”
Get all the latest aviation news on Simple Flying!
The minister then went on to add additional comments about the resumed routes, indicating that these flights would provide additional transportation options for the public. Furthermore, Ahmadi went on to add that healthy competition among carriers would ultimately lower prices and benefit the Afghan people.
The Ministry of Transport is optimistic that these flights could be a signal for more carriers to resume operations at airports across Afghanistan. The nation has multiple other airports that meet all the standards for international flight operations, such as Kandahar International Airport (KDH) and Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport (MZR), the latter of which already sees international service from Iranian carrier Mahan Air.
The bigger economic picture
The re-establishment of consistent international service demonstrates that the young Taliban regime has cleared a key economic hurdle in the Middle East. However, the specific carriers that have chosen to resume flight demonstrate that it is leisure travel, not business travel, that is driving interest in serving Afghanistan.
Notably, legacy carriers such as Turkish Airlines, Emirates, and Air India, which all flew to Kabul before the Taliban takeover, have yet to plan service resumption. This demonstrates that, despite easing political relations between other Middle Eastern nations and the new Afghan regime, economic relationships have yet to fully return. Hopefully, things will change soon.