By Albert Kuan
Emirates Halts Flights to Kabul Amid Chaos in Afghanistan
Emirates has suspended all operations to Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, until further notice. Emirates, which operates daily flights to Kabul, said that it is closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan to ensure the safe operation of its services.
“The safety of our customers and crew is of paramount importance and will not be compromised,” explained a spokesperson for the airline. Due to the deteriorating situation, Dubai’s state-owned budget carrier, Flydubai, also announced its own suspension of Kabul operations several hours before Emirates’ announcement.
The Taliban, an Islamic militant group, swept into Kabul Sunday after the Afghan government collapsed. The Taliban said there will be no transitional government and demanded immediate control of the country after Afghan President Asraf Ghani fled the country. Hundreds, including many foreign diplomats, are now trying to flee the country through Kabul’s airport.
Emirates has advised that travelers holding tickets with Kabul as the final destination will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin. Both Emirates and Flydubai said they would still continue to monitor the Afghanistan situation and revise their operations plan in line with the directives from the authorities. Both airlines said they have reached out to affected travelers regarding their refund and rebooking options.
Just moments prior to the suspension, Emirates’ very last Afghanistan flight, EK 640, a Boeing 777-300 jet bound for Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, had to turn back to Dubai due to a closure of the airport’s runway. The widebody jet was already approaching landing at the airport when it encountered the closure. According to FlightRadar24, the jet circled the Afghan capital before returning back to Dubai.
A Flyduabi jet bound for Kabul also experienced the same issue; however, it turned back mid-flight prior to approaching Afghan airspace. Since the failed attempt, Flydubai has suspended its services to Kabul.
Currently, all commercial traffic at Hamid Karzai International Airport is closed, and many countries are calling on “those in power and authority” in Afghanistan to respect and facilitate the departure of foreign nationals and Afghans who wish to leave the country.