A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane reportedly carrying less than a dozen passengers landed at the Hamid Karzai International Airport a little before noon today, becoming the first international commercial flight to touch down Kabul since the Taliban takeover.
A PIA spokesperson had yesterday refuted reports of Pakistan's national carrier resuming commercial flights between Islamabad and Kabul. Abdullah Hafeez Khan told Voice of America (VOA) that even though it was "keen and all geared up to restart", a final decision has not been made in this regard.
Pakistan international Airlines’ PK-6249 is the first international flight after the formation of Taliban’s interim regime which landed at Kabul airport a while ago, spokesman of the national flag carrier says.
It’s a Boeing 777 aircraft which the PIA has operated pic.twitter.com/VgxUeWzOu2
— Naimat Khan (@NKMalazai) September 13, 2021
Saying that media reports suggesting the flights would resume Monday have been taken out of context, Khan told VOA that "a lot of factors on the ground that are still to be managed."
He said that PIA has instead requested to run charter flights from Kabul and is not resuming regular flight operations from September 13.
On Saturday, AFP had quoted the same spokesperson as saying that the airline had received all technical clearances for flight operations and the first commercial plane is scheduled to fly from Islamabad to Kabul on September 13.
PIA's flip-flop could be a result of the massive coverage garnered by Saturday's report as the Taliban's stamp of approval given to PIA before any other international airline also showed the deep bond it enjoys with Islamabad.