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Pakistan airlines PIA suspends flights to Kabul over airfare dispute

ISLAMABAD, Oct 15: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suspended flights to Kabul on Thursday after an airfare dispute with Taliban. The airline also alleged "an unprofessional attitude" of the Kabul aviation authorities.

The Taliban Government had in a letter on Thursday asked the PIA to reduce fares on the Kabul-Islamabad route to previous levels that existed before the Taliban seized control of Kabul on August 15. The letter was also posted on the official Facebook page of the Afghan Aviation Ministry.

“Information has been conveyed to PIA and Kam Air private company to bring down the fare on the Kabul-Islamabad route to the level prior to the victory of the Islamic Emirate. If the airlines do not agree to this proposal their operations on the route will be stopped,” the letter issued by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

The PIA, which charged $2,700 for a return flight, said it is paying an insurance premium of $400,000 which is not feasible if it does not have 300 flyers. And nowadays it is flying far below its capacity.

Moreover, “Our flights frequently faced undue delays because of the unprofessional attitude of the Kabul aviation authorities,” Abdullah Hafeez Khan, the PIA spokesman told AFP.

The PIA claimed that it had played a major role in the mass evacuations following the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August. "The PIA evacuated around 3,000 people after the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan," said the PIA spokesperson. Among the people flown out of Kabul were officials of the United Nations, World Bank, the IMF and others like journalists. The PIA undertook the operations at great risk to its staff.

About allegations of mistreatment of PIA officials, Zabihullah Mujahid said his Government will investigate the matter.

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