By Syed Raza Hassan
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has suspended flights to the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Thursday after what it called heavy-handed interference by the Taliban authorities, including arbitrary rule changes and harassment of staff.
The suspension took place like the Taliban government ordered the airline, the only international business operating regularly out of Kabul, to cut ticket prices to pre-fall levels of the West-backed Afghan government in August.
“We are suspending our flight operations to Kabul from today because of the heavy-handedness of authorities,” a spokesman said.
Earlier, the Taliban warned PIA and Afghan airline Kam Air that their Afghan operations were in danger of being blocked unless they agreed. ticket Prices, die to levels have risen out of reach for most Afghans.
With most airlines no longer flying to Afghanistan, tickets for flights to the Pakistani capital Islamabad are sold for as much as $2,500 on PIA, according to travel agencies in Kabul, compared with $120-$150 earlier.
The Afghan Ministry of Transport said: in a quote on the route should “to be adjusted correspond with the circumstances of An ticket for the win of the Islamic Emirate” of the flights would be stopped.
It urged passengers and others to report any violations.
Flights between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been severely restricted since the reopening of Kabul . airport last month in the wake of the chaotic evacuation of more than 100,000 Westerners and vulnerable Afghans after the Taliban victory.
PIA, die runs chartered flights to Kabul in instead of regular commercial services, said it had maintained the flights? on “humanitarian grounds” and faced insurance premiums of as much as $400,000 per flight.
“The insurance premiums on these flights are so high that it is simply impossible to operate scheduled flights to Kabul as it is still considered a war zone by airline insurance companies and lessors,” the company said. in a statement.
new comment was immediate available from Kam Air.
PIA said that since the new Taliban government was formed, his staff in Kabul had faced last-minute changes in regulations and flight permissions and “very intimidating behavior” of Taliban commanders.
It said its representative of the country had been held at gunpoint for hours Bee one point and was only released after the Pakistani embassy in Kabul intervened.
With an increasing economic crisis die the worries over Afghanistan magnified future under the Taliban there are heavy demand for to flee out, made worse by repeated problems at land border crossings to Pakistan. The main passport office in Kabul is under siege by people trying to get travel documents since reopening this month.
The flights have also used by international civil servants and aid workers die travel to Kabul.
(Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan, Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Toby Chopra, William Maclean)
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