UAE consortium to operate Kabul and two other Afghan airports

Dr Anwar Gargash said the goal of the deal is to help the Afghan people

Abdul Ghani Baradar, Taliban deputy prime minister, exchanges documents with Razzaq Aslam, a UAE aviation officer, during a ceremony in Kabul. EPA
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A UAE-based consortium will manage three of Afghanistan’s airports for 18 months under a deal signed with the Taliban this week.

It is a return to the status quo for the airports, which were managed by the General Aviation Airport Coalition under the previous government, which the Taliban group overthrew last August.

Imamuddin Ahmadi, a spokesman of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, told Bloomberg on Wednesday that the coalition would handle the ground-handling services at Kabul, Kandahar and Herat airports. The control towers and security of the airports will be handled by the Taliban.

The deal should mean an increase in international flights to the country, where travel has mostly been outgoing flights evacuating citizens from other countries and refugees since the Taliban takeover on August 15.

The UAE, Turkey and Qatar sent technical teams to help airport operations and security after the Taliban took over.

Kabul airport was badly damaged as thousands flocked to the airport to leave the country and a suicide bomber from ISIS-affiliate ISIS-K killed 170 Afghans and 13 US service members.

“Our goal is to help the Afghan people and contribute to the recovery of the economy to promote the development and stability of Afghanistan,” Dr Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE President, wrote on Twitter. He added that several countries bid for the contract to operate the airports, and the UAE secured it.

“The well-deserved win to operate ground services in three Afghan airports, which came after a big competition with several states, is underpinned by the UAE's capability and competence in civil aviation management and safety,” Dr Gargash said.

Updated: May 25, 2022, 3:03 PM