Kabul International Airport has been closed for commercial flights after chaotic scenes at the airport, with hundreds of Afghans scrambling with a hope to leave Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover of the country. As the Taliban has encircled the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, the only way out for people is the airport.
Afghanistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) announced the suspension of commercial flights as Kabul airspace had been delivered to the military. ACAA updated its website in a notice to the pilot about the recent announcement regarding the closure of the civilian side of Hamid Karzai International Airport (Kabul airport) until further notice.
All civilian aircraft over Afghanistan were commended for diverting the route due to the ongoing scenario, as any transit through Kabul-controlled airspace was going out of control. The Kabul authority has stated the reason behind the commercial flights’ closure to prevent looting and plundering. According to the announcement, no air traffic services are available in the airfield at present, owing to the security situation.
On August 15, the president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country, which according to him, was to avoid the bloodshed in the country, while hundreds of Afghans are looking for their way out to leave the flooded Kabul Airport. Soon after controlling the Presidential palace, the Taliban’s spokesperson declared that the war was over in Afghanistan, as US-led forced departed and Western nations scrambled on Monday for evacuation of their citizens.
Chaotic scenes at the runway
Many videos have gone viral showing Afghans waiting on the tarmac outside various parked aircraft, as they have been stranded in war-torn Afghanistan. The airport’s runway was invaded by their citizens, as they ran alongside the plane as it taxied along the runway, pulling baggage, jogging alongside, waving and cheering, and rushing to have a place on one of the last commercial flights to leave the country before US forces secured the perimeter of Kabul airport, and took over the control of air traffic on Sunday.
As the Taliban seized the control of Afghanistan just over a week, following the US government’s decision to step back, little time was left to evacuate the foreign nationals and their locally employed staff. The US Department of State and Department of Defense in Afghanistan stated that it would deploy additional troops to secure American citizens and vulnerable Afghan nationals.
The evacuation flights by foreign countries were still taking off while many carriers already announced to cancel the flight services to and from Kabul.
Foreign airlines have suspended all of their commercial flights to the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan. British Airways and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have said that they are avoiding the Kabul Flight Information Region. On Sunday, Flydubai, Air Arabia, and Emirates stated flight suspension to Kabul after one flight was forced to turn back.
Germany’s flag carrier Lufthansa has confirmed to reroute all of its flights to avoid Afghan airspace. Flightradar24 displayed the diversion of commercial flights, including Air India’s flight on the Chicago-Delhi sector and Terra Avia aircraft, flying from Baku to Delhi, to circumvent the Afghan overflight. Before NOTAM issued by ICAO on behalf of Afghanistan, Air India was one of the few remaining airlines still operating flights at Kabul route, when one of its flights, scheduled to leave New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport to pick up passengers in Kabul at 12:30 pm local time, on Monday, was canceled.
Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Taiwan’s China Airlines have drawn up new flight paths out of Afghan airspace. Virgin Atlantic, the user of Afghan airspace, said that it had been monitoring the situation as the Taliban swept into the country’s capital. They stated about the adjustment of the upcoming flights out of Afghanistan’s airspace. The carrier will be diverted to key Asian markets, i.e., Islamabad, Lahore, Mumbai, and New Delhi.
Western nations, including the US, Britain, France, are jolting to get their citizens as well as some Afghan employees out of the country. The suspension of commercial flights has sparked chaos, as the airport has been on hold, and many Afghans are waiting desperately in complete uncertainty.
150 Indian citizens have been evacuated by military aircraft from Kabul airportpic.twitter.com/skU7D3MAtw— AIRLIVE (@airlivenet) August 17, 2021
Commercial flights were suspended after the eruption of fitful gunfire in the air of Afghanistan. Evacuation flights resumed on the military aircraft, but the halting of commercial flights shut down the Afghan’s one of the last routes to flee the country.
Broader consensus is set to evolve among countries in Afghanistan to get their citizens evacuated from Kabul after the Taliban seized the country.