Kabul: No concrete deal yet for management of international airport

kabul-qatar-airport

The Taliban took over the Afghan administration in August 2021 following the withdrawal of the US troops from the country. Days after the takeover, the Taliban took control of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, only to find it in complete chaos and disarray. 

Acknowledging the problem at hand, the Taliban sought assistance from countries across the world to manage the Kabul airport and save Afghanistan’s sinking economy. While several countries expressed their interest in managing the Kabul airport, no concrete deal could reach to effectively handle the operations of the country’s aviation sector. 

Over the past few months, the Taliban has conducted several rounds of discussions and negotiations with the Qatari officials. However, a deal has yet not reached between both sides to oversee the airport management and improve the economic state of the country. 

Recently, Maulvi Amir Khan Muttaqi, Taliban’s Acting Foreign Minister visited Doha to hold discussions with Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, about various business and economic issues pertaining to key sectors of Afghanistan. 

According to Mohammad Naeem Wardak, Taliban Political Office spokesman in Doha, the two sides were not able to agree on various aspects regarding the management of the airport among other sectors. 

Furthermore, Qatari companies did not receive approval from the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology to operate the airport’s management. The Civil Aviation Security Administration could not ensure that the Qatari officials would be able to manage the airport without posing any danger to the safety and security of air traffic.

GAAC to continue Kabul airport management

In view of the present circumstances, the authorities have decided to let the UAE-based General Aviation Airport Coalition (GAAC) company to continue operating the Kabul airport. The GAAC has been proactively managing the airport since 2019. After the Taliban takeover in 2021, the GAAC took up the challenge to restructure and operate the airport, providing massive financial assistance to the Afghan administration. The authority made fixes to the heavily-damaged airport and restored the continuity of airline operations. From ground handling to security operations, the GAAC has been productively managing the international airport, as part of the UAE’s continuous humanitarian endeavours to assist the crisis-hit country.

Increasing humanitarian crises

Even months after the Taliban takeover of the Afghan administration, the country’s economy has plunged into further crises. As per reports, over 22 millions of Afghans are on the verge of life-threatening food insecurity, while millions others are without a steady income for months now. Food and fuel prices have surged gradually, making it difficult for Afghan people to survive in the crisis-hit country. 

Amid numerous sanctions imposed by the United States and other Western countries on the Taliban, billions worth of Afghan government funds are frozen and humanitarian aid has been halted to bring some respite to affected Afghan people. 

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