Airlines avoid Afghan airspace as chaos grips Kabul airport

August 17, 2021
Afghan refugess crammed into a US plane. Photo: Defense One/US Department of Defense.

Airlines are avoiding Afghan airspace after a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) warned there are no civilian air traffic control services and they enter uncontrolled airspace at their own risk.

United Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines are among the airlines avoiding the troubled nation’s airspace, while Flydubai and Emirates suspended flights to Kabul as chaotic scenes continued at the airport.

Emirates told customers holding tickets with Kabul as their final destination would not be accepted at their point of origin. One of its aircraft was also diverted en route to Kabul.

In one chilling video from Kabul, desperate people are seen clinging to a US Air Force C-17 aircraft as it takes off from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.  The media reported that at least two people fell to their deaths.

Watch the video below from NBC:

Other pictures showed people swarming over an aerobridge.

US troops moved to secure the airport, reportedly killing two armed men, and military flights resumed Monday evening US time, after a pause during the day, with US forces handling air traffic control.

A Pentagon spokesman, John F. Kirby,  said it was expected that about 3000 US marines would be on the ground by Tuesday morning and 6000 troops would be helping with security and evacuation operations later this week.

Kirby described the C-17 video as extraordinary.

“And it’s troubling and it certainly gives us all pause and concern here, which is why commanders are working so hard to secure the field and to — and to make it a more safe environment,” he said.

US website Defense One also obtained a startling photograph of 640 Afghans packed into the hold of a C-17 as they tried to escape the Taliban.

Photo: Defense One/US Department of Defense.

The speed of the Taliban victory in Afghanistan came as a shock and raised questions about the planning behind the US withdrawal.

US President conceded the collapse of the Afghan regime was quicker than anticipated but defended the decision to end US military involvement as the right one for America after 20 years of bloodshed.

“I stand squarely behind my decision,” Biden said. “After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces.”