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Air India cancels Kabul flight; India’s airlines to avoid Afghan airspace

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New Delhi, Aug 16, 2021 – India’s airlines will avoid flying over Afghanistan as Kabul’s airspace has been closed for civilian air traffic.

Accordingly, Air India and Vistara, which use the airpsace for their west-bound flights, will reroute their operations.

IndiGo said in a statement: “Given the current circumstances, IndiGo is avoiding Afghanistan airspace since the evening of August 15, 2021 and will continue doing so until the situation improves. We have ensured to cover all flights with alternative airspace.”

According to a Vistara spokesperson: “We have stopped using Afghanistan airspace and are taking an alternate route for our flights to and from London.

“We are closely working with the relevant authorities to monitor and assess the situation and taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of our passengers, staff and aircraft.”

Besides, Air India has cancelled its flight operations on Delhi-Kabul-Delhi route after the airspace over the war-torn city was closed. The airline is monitoring the situation closely.

Earlier in the day, a NOTAM (notice to airmen) was issued advising incoming and transiting civilian aircraft to reroute before entering Afghanistan’s airspace.

On Monday, Air India’s flight from Delhi to Kabul was originally scheduled to depart at 8.30 a.m. However, Air India, which was monitoring the situation in Afghanistan, decided to operate the flight at 12.30 p.m. The flight was eventually cancelled.

The NOTAM said the airspace has been released to the military and that civil aircraft entering the airspace will not get assistance from Kabul ATC.

Apart from hampering evacuation efforts, the latest development will impact international operations to and from South Asia using the Afghanistan airspace.

It was expected that Air India’s crucial flight service between Delhi and Kabul will be used for evacuation of Indians from the capital of war-torn Afghanistan.

On Sunday evening, an Air India flight with 129 passengers from Kabul had landed in Delhi.

The AI 244 had taken off at 6.06 p.m. on Sunday from the Kabul airport, even as the Taliban reached the Afghan capital and were on the verge of seizing power.

Expressing despair over the state of affairs in Afghanistan, a woman who de-boarded the flight told reporters in Delhi on Sunday that the world has abandoned Afghanistan.

“Our friends are going to get killed,” she said.

The passengers also included diplomats and security officials posted in the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

The situation in Afghanistan worsened further on Sunday, as Kabul was taken over by the Taliban.

President Ashraf Ghani along with National Security Advisor Hamdullah Muhib and head of the administrative office of the President, Fazel Mahmood Fazli, fled from Afghanistan on Sunday.  (Agency)

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