Emirates and flydubai cancelled flights between Dubai and the Afghan capital Kabul after the Taliban seized control of the city on Sunday. American and British troops rushed to help evacuate foreigners out of the besieged city but Taliban officials said it would allow Kabul International Airport to remain open and commercial flights could continue in safety.
A spokesperson for flydubai said the airline was “closely monitoring” the situation in Afghanistan after gunshots were heard throughout Kabul and Taliban forces encircled the city.
In recent weeks the Taliban has seized control of a number of key cities across Afghanistan with only Kabul and several provincial capitals remaining under government control. Taliban forces had already taken the nearby city of Jalalabad without a fight before fighters descended on Kabul.
Diplomatic staff at the U.S. and British embassies rushed to destroy paperwork and computers and evacuate staff after the sudden advance of Taliban forces. Additional British forces were sent to Afghanistan on Friday but military commanders had been planning on an evacuation later this week.
Emirates currently operates one daily flight to Kabul while flydubai operates two daily services between Dubai and the Afghan capital.
flydubai operated an early morning service to Kabul on Sunday as scheduled and a second flight departed Dubai at around 1 pm. The flight turned back just before it entered Afghan airspace and started to fly back to Dubai.
Emirates flight EK641 departed Dubai at around 11:05 am on Sunday and reached Kabul but circled the airport at around 30,000 feet around eight times before diverting back to Dubai without landing.
On Sunday evening, a spokesperson for flydubai confirmed that the airline had temporarily suspended all operations to Kabul.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and revise our plans in line with the directives from the authorities. We will be in touch with the passengers regarding their refund and rebooking options,” a statement from the airline continued.
The evacuation of foreign nationals out of Afghanistan will now largely rely on military flights after the few remaining other commercial airlines suspended operations to Kabul.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.