Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) announced on Thursday that flights from Kabul were suspended and accused the Taliban of “harsh” interference, according to news agencies. The Taliban government had ordered Pakistan’s national flag bearers to lower prices to the levels when it operated under the Western-backed Afghan government. The PIA accused the Sunni Muslim Pashtun group, which last month announced an interim government, of arbitrary rule changes and threats against staff.
“We will suspend our flight operations to Kabul from today due to harshness by the authorities,” the news agency Reuters was quoted as saying by the PIA spokesman.
Reports indicate that Taliban officials used derogatory language towards the airline’s staff and also handled an employee. A PIA spokesman has said that flights to and from Kabul will remain suspended until “the situation becomes favorable”, AFP reported.
The Pakistani carrier has been criticized for charging an unreasonable amount, as much as $ 1,200 for a single trip from Kabul to Islamabad. The airline has defended the ticket prices, saying that the operation “was not very lucrative financially” and that it only operated flights for “humanitarian reasons”.
PIA was the only international commercial airline to operate regularly from Kabul. The airline had originally said that it would only operate charter flights at the request of certain international institutions and assignments.
“Honestly, there will be no way for the evacuees to fly back before regular flights resume. At best, ours would be charter operations, carried out at the request of some customers’ demands who want to get their people out of Kabul,” ANI had quoted This is what PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan says.
A few days after the PIA’s denial of resumption of commercial flights to Kabul, the airline landed the first commercial international flight at Hamid Karzai International Airport since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan.
(With input from agencies)