Amid the chaotic scenes at Kabul International Airport as the United States and its NATO allies frantically pack up and leave Afghanistan and the Taliban seize control of the country, it has emerged that the U.S. is charging American citizens $2,000 to get on one of the few repatriation flights out of Kabul.
In a security alert from the State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council, officials told people seeking to flee the Taliban that “repatriation flights are not free, and passengers will be required to sign a promissory loan agreement”.
U.S. citizens have been advised that they may be barred from renewing their passports until the loan has been repaid. The loan amount is $2,000.
The OSAC alert was sent a day before the situation in Kabul rapidly deteriorated and the Taliban were allowed to take over Kabul without any resistance. At the time, the OSAC was advising people to get out of Afghanistan on commercial flights but said it was exploring U.S. military repatriation flights as an alternative for people who couldn’t secure a flight on a commercial service.
Less than 24 hours later, commercial flights operated by Emirates and flydubai were forced to abandon services to Kabul midflight. Commercial services have since been banned.
The OSAC alert also detailed a number of other bureaucratic loopholes that people seeking to escape Afghanistan should have jumped through, although it’s not clear whether the U.S. has managed to cut much of this red tape to help people get out the country as quickly as possible.
The U.S. and NATO airlift has helped to rescue thousands of expat workers and refugees over the last week, including more than 600 people who were squeezed onto the same military transport plane. It’s unlikely that many of these people had signed loan agreements prior to be airlifted out of Kabul.
The U.S. military continues to investigate reports that at least two people fell to their deaths out of the wheel well of a C-17 Globemaster aircraft as it took off from Kabul airport. military sources have since claimed that human remains were found in the wheel well of a C-17 after it landed in Doha, Qatar.
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.