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Domestic flights begin in Afghanistan

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Several domestic flights took off from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Saturday for cities in the nation’s north, west and south. Three more flights were planned for Sunday, an airport official told the Associated Press.

But the airport is still operating without radar or navigation systems, making it difficult to resume international civilian flights, a key step to enable refugees to leave. But the Qatari foreign ministry said Qatari technical officials had prepared the airport for international humanitarian flights.The resumption of domestic flights sees the Taliban cementing its civilian control of the country, as it faces myriad challenges, including international skepticism, a freeze on government reserves and its need to meet the expectations of fighters who fought two decades for victory. The Taliban has been expected to announce a government for several days.

“Officially the airport is open,” said Saad Sunday. “Over the past two days, we’ve repaired more than we expected.

“I want to assure all people that the airport is safe and secure,” Saad said. He added there were remaining technical issues that should be fixed this week.

“There’s no radar, no navigation systems in place,” said Capt. Ghirlandaio Jailani Wafa, a top aviation official at Kabul airport. He said a few domestic flights were able to resume after Qatari engineers set up temporary radio communications between air traffic controllers and pilots last week. But pilots have to navigate flights’ landing and take off visually. International commercial airlines are unlikely to resume before radar and navigation systems are fully operational because of international aviation guidelines and flight insurance costs, he said.

A humanitarian aid flight from the United Arab Emirates landed at the airport Saturday, and a humanitarian flight from Qatar arrived Saturday according to the Qatari Foreign Ministry. The Qatari aid included 17 tons of medical aid, food stables and baby formula, it said.

Pilots with Afghanistan’s national carrier “Ariana Afghan Airlines” are gradually expanding their domestic routes, according to pilot Capt. Nader Omar.

(Washington Post)

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