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Explained: Why flights from Kabul have been cancelled after Taliban takeover

Afghanistan crisis: Air India operated a flight to Kabul Sunday, bringing back 129 passengers from there. It was expected to operate one flight every day, but the latest situation could see the plan canceled.

Written by Pranav Mukul , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
August 16, 2021 12:51:26 pm
A horde of people run towards the Kabul Airport Terminal, after Taliban insurgents took control of the presidential palace in Kabul (Reuters)

As the Taliban took control of Kabul, including its airport, the air space of Afghanistan has been declared uncontrolled with aircraft transiting over the country being asked to reroute. On account of this, Air India, which was expected to operate a scheduled flight from Delhi-Kabul at 12.30 pm, is unlikely to do so.

“Airspace over Afghanistan is declared closed, so no aircraft can operate there. Our scheduled flight to Kabul also cannot go,” an Air India source told The Indian Express.

Air India operated a flight to Kabul Sunday, bringing back 129 passengers from there. It was expected to operate one flight every day, but the latest situation could see the plan canceled. “The events are changing very fast and we are responding to them as it happens,” a senior government official said.

In addition, images from flight tracking portal Flightradar24 show aircraft taking a detour to avoid Afghani airspace. Air India’s Chicago-Delhi flight took a detour to enter Iran’s airspace. As of 12 pm India time, the flight was still airborne. An Air India source said that the flight is expected to make an unscheduled stop at Sharjah to refuel before it heads back to Delhi.

Images from flight tracking portal Flightradar24 show aircraft taking a detour to avoid Afghani airspace.

In a notice to airmen (NOTAM), the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority has informed that the Kabul airspace has been released to the military and that the surrounding airspaces have been informed of this. It advised all transiting aircraft to reroute.

In 2019, following the Balakot airstrike, Pakistan had closed its airspace for a period of five months that caused Indian and foreign airlines to see durations of their flights extend by as much as 70-90 minutes as a result of the detours. This translated into hundreds of crores in additional fuel costs for these airlines.

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