Pakistan International Airline stops flights citing Taliban intimidation

Pakistan airline stops flights citing Taliban intimidation
PIA was the only foreign carrier making regular flights to Kabul. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has suspended flights to Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, citing “heavy-handed” interference from the Taliban.

The decision from the PIA came after the Taliban ordered the airline to cut prices to levels seen before the fall of the Western-backed government in August.

The airlines has been the only foreign carrier operating regular flights out of Kabul.

Tickets to Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, had been selling for up to 10 times the August rate.

In a statement, the Taliban government’s Transport Ministry said that tickets should “be adjusted to correspond with the conditions of a ticket before the victory of the Islamic Emirate”, i.e. $120-150.

The Taliban urged passengers to report any violations of this order, which was also directed at Afghan carrier Kam Air.

The statement warned that flights could be banned if the airlines did not comply.

But Abdullah Khan, a spokesperson for the PIA said the company had to deal with last-minute changes by officials to regulations and flight permissions.

Mr Khan added that its staff were also facing intimidation, with its representative held at gunpoint for several hours.

Services between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been severely limited since international flights resumed last month following the departure of US forces at the end of August.

Pakistan International Airlines said that insurance premiums were so high that it was impossible to operate scheduled flights, and that PIA’s decision to resume charter flights on 13 September had been taken on humanitarian grounds.

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