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Kabul gets more exposure with Emirates

The arrival of Emirates Airlines in December in Kabul can be interepreted as a small sign of normalization for the  Afghan capital.

DUBAI/KABUL – Emirates announced early this week that it will commence a daily passenger service to Khwaja Rawash Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan from December 4. The daily flight to Afghanistan’s capital city will be the first destination served by Emirates in Afghanistan. The airline seems confident of the route’s success: it will be served by an aircraft of large capacity with an Airbus A340-500 offering 12 First Class, 42 Business Class and 204 Economy Class seats plying the route.

“Emirates has identified a demand for a premium service airline offering between Dubai and Kabul. With this new route, Emirates will be able to offer passengers traveling to and from the city excellent global connections via Dubai, combined with the award-winning product and service the airline is renowned for. This includes operating the only First Class cabin between Dubai and Kabul,” said Barry Brown, Emirates’ divisional SVP, commercial operations East.

“We expect the flight to be particularly popular with corporate business travelers, as well as Afghan nationals returning home to visit friends and family. It will also present a new opportunity for cargo operations to the country, particularly for the shipment of pharmaceuticals, perishable foodstuffs and construction materials.”

The arrival of Emirates is psychologically important for Kabul. Emirates is one of the world’s largest and most famous carriers and its presence in the Afghan capital can be interepreted as a sign of confidence.

Kabul airport is currently linked to the world by 12 international air carriers, most of them linking the city to South Asia and the Middle East. Among the largest international carriers present in the Afghan capital are Turkish Airlines to Istanbul , Air India to Delhi and Pakistan Airlines to Islamabad. Low cost carrier FlyDubai and Afghanistan own national carrier Ariana as well private carrier Safi Airways already fly to Dubai.

Kabul Airport is currently being modernized. At the end of last year, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Transport and Aviation signed a contract on reconstructing the Kabul International Airport with Japan State cooperation agency. The project, costing some US$20 million, will include a terminal expansion as well as renovating the security tower and increasing the number of entrance gates to the airport. Presently, the terminal has the capacity for almost 1 million people. Once completed, Kabul airport would then be able to receive up to 1.5 million passengers.  The Kabul International Airport was rebuilt in 2005 with financial collaboration from various donor partners.

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.