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FAA says US carriers can operate Kabul evacuation flights with DOD approval

FAA says US carriers can operate Kabul evacuation flights with DOD approval

Commanding General U.S. Central Command Kenneth F. McKenzie tours an evacuation control centre at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, in this photo taken on August 17, 2021 and released by U.S. Navy on August 18, 2021. U.S NAVY/Central Command Public Affairs/LT. Mark Andries/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON: The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said late on Wednesday (Aug 18) that domestic air carriers and civilian pilots can fly into Kabul to conduct evacuation or relief flights with prior US Defense Department approval.

In a statement, the FAA said that without prior approval, US carriers cannot fly over Afghanistan airspace or fly into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. The FAA cited "a lack of high altitude air traffic control services".

All relief flights into Kabul "must have permission" from the Defense Department.

Without prior approval, US passenger and air carriers are prohibited from flying over Afghanistan, the FAA said, adding it does not apply to Defense Department operated flights.

The FAA issued a new "Notice to Airmen" on Wednesday that imposed the new restrictions barring flights over Afghanistan without prior approval, citing risks "posed by extremist/militant activity, limited risk mitigation capabilities and disruptions to air traffic services".

A Pentagon spokesman told reporters on Monday that the US military had assumed control of air traffic at the Kabul airport.

United Airlines said late on Sunday it was rerouting some US to India flights to avoid Afghanistan airspace after insurgents took control of the presidential palace in Kabul.

In late July, the FAA issued new restrictions on Afghanistan US air operations, saying flights operating below 26,000 feet were prohibited over nearly all of Afghanistan, unless operating in and out of Kabul, citing the risk "posed by extremist/militant activity". 

Source: Reuters/vc

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