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Turkey's flag carrier resumes flights to Afghanistan after 3-year pause

The Turkish envoy hailed the resumption of flights as a “new era.”
Passengers getting off a Turkish airline plane after it landed at the Kabul International Airport in Kabul on May 21, 2024.

ANKARA — The first direct flight from Istanbul to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, landed at Kabul International Airport on Tuesday after a three-year hiatus.

Cenk Unal, charge d'affaires of the Turkish Embassy in Kabul, described the resumption of direct flights as a “new era” between Turkey and Afghanistan at a ceremony held at Kabul International Airport in the presence of Afghan officials and Turkish Airlines (THY) representatives, according to Turkey's state broadcaster TRT.

“The resumption of our flights marks the beginning of a new era for our country, the Turkish Airlines family, and Afghanistan,” Unal was quoted as saying by TRT. Unal also shared a video of the first THY flight arriving at the airport.

Turkey had suspended direct flights to the country following the Taliban takeover in August 2021 along with its Western NATO allies. 

Unal also shared a video of the arrival of the aircraft. 

THY will operate four weekly round-trip flights between Istanbul and Kabul, TRT reported.

Turkey doesn’t officially recognize the Taliban government but is pursuing what it describes as a “balanced and practical engagement policy” with Kabul.

Afghanistan's interim Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi visited Turkey in October, meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan, as well as other officials.

Ankara also sent 24 tons of humanitarian aid to the country after floods hit the north and west earlier this month, killing at least 120 people.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that his country was preparing to send another aid train to Afghanistan.

Trade ties between the two countries remain intact, with the trade volume standing at roughly $287 million in 2023, according to Turkey’s official data.