Kabul - Ariana Afghan Airlines is due to begin regular flights from Kabul to Dubai on Monday, reopening a heavily used international route that had been suspended since the Taliban victory over the Western-backed government in August. Ariana will operate daily flights, charging $550 for a one-way ticket, the state-run airline said on its Facebook page. A spokesman said there had been heavy demand for tickets on the first flight, which was due to depart at 4.30 p.m. local time on Monday (1200 GMT). Dubai will be the only international destination offered by Ariana for the time being. Some charter services have been flying to Kabul since the militant Islamist Taliban takeover but normally scheduled commercial flights have remained suspended.
Pakistan International Airlines suspended its charter service to Kabul from Islamabad last month, citing interference from Taliban authorities, who had warned the airline it should cut its ticket prices. Tickets for PIA flights had been selling for up to $2,500, according to local travel agents, compared with around $180 before the Taliban victory. PIA said it could not afford to operate services at previous prices because of the high cost of insuring flights to a country considered by insurers to be a war zone. With a worsening economic crisis compounding concerns about Afghanistan's future under the Taliban, there has been heavy demand for flights out, made worse by repeated problems at land border crossings into Pakistan.