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    ACCI opposes new aviation policy

    KABUL (PAN): The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) chief on Saturday voiced concern at the government's new aviation policy allowing more foreign airlines international flights from the Kabul airport.

    Currently, Fly Emirates, Fly Dubai, Gulf Air, Turkish Airlines, Indian Airlines, Air India, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Asman Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines and Qatar Airways are operating in Afghanistan, according to the Ministry of Transport and Aviation.

    Additionally, three national airlines -- the state-owned Ariana Afghan Airlines, Kam Air and Safi Airlines are also conducting domestic and international operations.

    The Ministry of Transport and Aviation says it is working on a policy that would allow more foreign airlines to carry out international flights from the Kabul Airport.

    ACCI head, Mohammad Qurban Haqjo, told a press conference the policy was not in the interest of the country's economic development. He said local airlines had the capability of competing with foreign firms.

    If more foreign firms were allowed international flights, the local airlines would collapse within six months, he warned, saying 1,800 workers ran the risk of losing their jobs if the policy was implemented.

    He feared if the security situation deteriorated, foreign firms would stop operating in Afghanistan. "An ordinary rocket attack on the Kabul airport three years ago resulted in a halt to flights by the Dubai Airlines."

    The press conference was also attended by officials of the Ariana, Kam Air and Safi Airlines. Kam Air deputy director, Farid Pikar, said the Afghanistan aviation sector lacked the ability to accommodate more foreign airlines. "More foreign airlines mean further shrinking of the market in Afghanistan."

    He said foreign airlines, backed by their governments, would eventually force local firms, which enjoyed little official support, into grounding their planes.

    ma/mud



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