The Cradle
UAE consortium signs deal with Taliban to manage Kabul airport
The deal will only apply to the logistics at the airports and not security, which has been a sticking point in past discussions with potential partners
By News Desk - May 24 2022

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

In a bid to increase trade and foreign investment as well as ease the economic crisis in Afghanistan, the Taliban government signed an agreement with a UAE consortium on 24 May to provide ground handling services at three airports in the country.

The Emirati aviation company GAAC will provide ground handling services at Kabul International Airport, as well as at airports in Kandahar in the south and Herat in the west, Taliban government deputy spokesman Inamullah Samangani told the Spanish news agency, EFE.

The signing of the agreement was attended by Afghan Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Ghani Baradar, Acting Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Hamidullah Akhundzada, and GAAC Director General Razaq Aslam.

At the signing, Baradar emphasized the guarantee of security throughout the country and the readiness of the Taliban government to cooperate with countries investing in Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said he hoped international flights would soon resume in the country “in a safe and reliable environment [and allowing] increased trade and business with other countries.”

Qatar and Turkey sent temporary technical teams to help airport operations and security after the Taliban defeated the US-trained Afghan army last in August 2021.

Following the Taliban victory and the subsequent chaos that ensued at Kabul airport, both Afghan and international airlines suspended air travel in the country.

Evacuation flights ended when US troops withdrew from Afghanistan after two decades of occupation. Options for traveling in and out of the country have been limited to land borders or the few flights available from Pakistani or Qatari airlines.

After the withdrawal of US forces, western nations suspended funds for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, which accounted for about 43 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), according to World Bank data, aggravating the humanitarian and economic crisis in the country.

Washington blocked Kabul from accessing Afghanistan’s nearly $10 billion in foreign reserves, before taking half of it to compensate the relatives of victims of the 11 September attacks.