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Taliban announces deal with UAE to manage three airports in Afghanistan

The Taliban on Tuesday, 24 May, declared a deal enabling an Emirati company to manage its three airports in Afghanistan after the decline of the nation’s US-backed government. However, the UAE has not acknowledged the deal yet.

The Taliban on Tuesday, 24 May, declared a deal enabling an Emirati company to manage its three airports in Afghanistan after the decline of the nation’s US-backed government. However, the UAE has not acknowledged the deal yet.

Under this deal, GAAC Solutions, an Abu-Dhabi based firm, will manage the airports in Kabul, Herat and Kandahar, said the Taliban.

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The only Airport in Afghanistan, located in the capital city Kabul was trashed when millions of people rushed to evacuate as the US-led forces were withdrawn.

While some international and domestic flights are still functioning out of the facility, it needs significant upgrading for significant foreign airlines to renew complete services.

The entire operation of the Kabul airport is essential for the resuscitation of Afghanistan’s shattered economy.

But, no country has yet recognised the Taliban government formally, with countries still watching to see how the group which abused human rights during their rule in 1996-2001 will rule this time.

UAE firm GAAC, which was earlier functioning in Afghanistan, signed a recent 18-month contract that will cover three airports Kandahar, Herat and Kabul.

During a press conference, the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Hameedullah Akhundzada, “The recent contract is only for providing ground handling services.”

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GAAC has been giving out these services at Kabul airport since November 2020 and played a crucial role in rehabilitating the facility in August.

The regional director of GAAC, Ibrahim Morafi, said, “We are not a new face here.”

“But GAAC signing the new contract will now encourage international airlines to restart flights to Afghanistan,” he said, without briefing when such flights, including from the UAE, were expected to restart.

A Qatar-Turkey consortium has also been in talks with the aviation ministry for a few months now over operating airports at Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Khost and Mazar-i-Sharif. Still, these were delayed as the Taliban has not yet responded to the same.

Tariq Saeed

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