Photo: Flightradar24

US and European airlines to resume commercial flights over Afghanistan

Commercial flights over Afghanistan are set to resume following approvals from both the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

According to the Times of India, the FAA has allowed US planes to fly over the country at altitudes of over 32,000 feet, while the EASA has issued a directive to its member state airlines to avoid flying below that altitude.

Most airlines have avoided Afghanistan’s airspace since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021.

The FAA’s decision is based on the assessment that the risks to US civil aviation operations at altitudes of over 32,000 feet have diminished. However, the EASA has warned that there is a continued possible threat to civil aviation at lower altitudes and has advised its member state airlines to avoid flying below 32,000 feet.

According to the report, the reopening of Afghanistan’s airspace is expected to reduce travel time between the East and the West. However, there are still safety concerns due to the limited Air Traffic Service (ATS) capacities across the country.

Non-state extremist groups remain active and could sporadically target aviation facilities in multiple ways, including direct rocket or mortar attacks, indirect fire, or suicide bombers.

Despite these concerns, a number of major European airlines, including those flying important routes through India, are reportedly planning test flights over Afghanistan.