Unending problems of Afghan airlines

Monday, 16 April 2018 03:02 Written by  Read 221 times

The success of airlines in Afghanistan has become a conundrum. Over the last decade, three airlines collapsed and the remaining ones are also teetering on the brink of becoming defunct. Banned from flying into European airspace, Afghan air carriers are now not even allowed to go to the United Arab Emirates.
Experts blame poor management, flaws in laws, investment in dilapidated planes, and weak communication with foreigners for the failures of Afghan airlines.
An expert, Esmatuallah Wardak, tells The Heart of Asia that Afghan businessmen with no experience and education in aviation purchased old planes at a very high price, which were unable to compete with foreign air carriers. “On the one hand, they had bought the planes at high-interest loans from banks, but on the other hand they could not compete with foreign airlines because of not meeting relevant standards, and even faced with bans, causing huge losses to them.”
According to Wardak, the shortcomings in Afghan aviation laws have also contributed to increased problems at airlines.
There are no technical aviation professionals and engineers in Afghanistan, stresses Engineer Homayoon, another industry expert, adding that the foreign engineers and technicians hired by Afghan airlines develop policies and procedures without even taking the Afghan context into account.
“The planes currently operated by Afghan airlines in Afghanistan have high costs compared to foreign aircrafts; therefore, they cannot compete with them,” he told The Heart of Asia.
Afghan airlines also do not know the language to communicate with foreigners, a shortcoming that has handicapped their ability to build successful partnerships with world’s leading air carriers.
Three Afghan airlines -- Ofoq-e-Sharq, Pamir Airlines, and Afghan Jet -- have ceased to operate over the last ten years.
By the same token, Safi Airways has been stripped of the permit to operate foreign flights, while Kam Air has also limited its flights following the loss of some of its foreign crew members in the attack on Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. Ariana Afghan Airlines as the country’s national carrier, which suffered millions of dollars in loss due to poor management over the last several years, is still coddled by government subsidy.
The national carrier announced last year that it was expecting to reach break-even point the following year; however, it now refuses to share any details.
The Heart of Asia could not reach the Ministry of Transportation and Civil Aviation, and Ariana Afghan Airlines for comment.

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