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After Kabul Falls, Airlines Avoid Afghan Airspace

With Taliban militants taking over control of the Afghan capital of Kabul, airlines are now asked to avoid flying over the country at all costs. The Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority is warning airlines the airspace is currently uncontrolled, leaving flights without ground control.

Many major airlines are now avoiding the airspace over Afghanistan, after Taliban-lead militants took control of the city causing turmoil at the city’s airport. United Airlines, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic are among three of the major international carriers affected by the fighting in the nation.

Airlines Reroute Flights to India and Other Southern Asian Countries

With the collapse of the Afghan government, airlines are being warned that aviation services are no longer existent. According to Reuters, the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority is warning carriers that the Kabul airspace “has been released to the military,” and all other air traffic control centers have been advised of the lack of service. In addition, the agency has closed Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport (KBL) to civilian flights until further notice.

As a result, several major international carriers are changing their routing to avoid the country altogether. CNN reports United Airlines – which operates routes between the United States and India – is the first U.S. based carrier to announced they will avoid flying over Afghanistan due to the “dynamic nature of the situation.”

Other major airlines are also adjusting their flights as well. Air France, Emirates, Lufthansa, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines are also changing their plans to avoid the airspace. The result is additional flight time and more fuel costs for the airlines.

The lack of flights to and from the city could create a humanitarian crisis for those attempting to flee the country from Taliban control. According to The New York Times, civilians have rushed the airport and climbed aboard aircraft with the hopes of leaving the country, as U.S. military forces attempt to organize evacuations.

Afghan Closure in Abundance of Caution After Other Incidents

The Afghan airspace closure is the latest move to ensure the safety of civilians in a time of political disturbance, after previous episodes lead to shot down aircraft and deaths. In 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by a Russian-built Buk missile system, after flying over a combat zone along the Ukraine-Russian border.

Feature image courtesy: Carl Montgomery/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0