By Ian McMurtry
Kam Air Seeks Refuse in Iran as Kabul Chaos Continues
As the situation at Hamid Karzai Kabul International Airport continues to unfold, Kam Air has decided that maybe anywhere but the capital of Afghanistan is a safe spot for its fleet. The airline is in the process of relocating its fleet of aircraft from domestic grounds to nearby nations. For the most part, this means utilizing Iranian airports as short-term storage while the developing events in the Asian nation continue to be unknown.
“Following the escalation of clashes and tensions at Kabul airport, the owner of the private Afghan airline Kam Air requested the transfer of a number of the company’s airplanes to Iranian airports. Iran has also issued a landing permit for these planes in line with international cooperation standards with neighboring countries” said Civil Aviation Organization spokesman Mohammad Hassan Zibakhsh.
The airline’s fleet consists of six Boeing 737-300s, three Airbus A340-300s and a single Boeing 737-500. The airline’s Airbus A340s have been assisting in the movement of refugees and American citizens out of Afghanistan, with flights being operated under different callsigns and operating out of Kabul to various locations on the Arabian Peninsula. Meanwhile, it’s the majority of the Boeing 737s that were relocated to neighboring countries, mostly being the Iranian cities of Mashhad and Tehran.
Formed in 2003 by Zmari Kamgar, Kam Air quickly grew into prominence and became the key competitor to flag carrier Ariana Afghan Airlines. The airline in the past decade and a half has outgrown the flag carrier, operating flights to 21 destinations across Asia. Inside Afghanistan, the airline operates to over double the cities that Ariana does, flying flights to Fayzabad, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, Tarinkot and Zaranj. Internationally, service is provided on either Boeing 737s or Airbus A340s to Delhi, India, Almaty, Kazakhstan, Kuwait City, Kuwait, Islamabad, Pakistan, Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tashkent, Uzbekistan and both Ankara and Istanbul in Turkey.
According to previous expansion plans from the airline, further growth using the Airbus fleet was in hopes of landing nonstop flights to Europe and the United States. The airline has statistically flown over a million passengers per year, but the effects of COVID-19 and the recent instability in Afghanistan have greatly impacted the forward outlook for the airline. The airline’s management team had met with Taliban leaders just one week prior to talk about potentially restarting operations, but those plans are currently shelved as foreign powers continue to utilize the airport and the country itself grapples with a lack of control of the skies above.
As for competitor Ariana Afghan, its fleet will remain on the grounds of Kabul for the time being. The airline has four aircraft in total, with two Boeing 737-400s and a single Airbus A310 wearing the Ariana blue. Competitor Bakhtar Afghan Airlines has a leased contract for Ariana’s lone Boeing 737-500, which is also stored in Kabul.