Recent talks over airport management have been delayed due to members of the technical teams contracting Covid-19.
Qatari and Turkish companies are set to manage technical operations at Afghanistan’s airports, with a deal expected to be finalised within two weeks, an official from the Afghan Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation [MoTCA] said on Monday.
“We will not give the management of the airports to anyone. We will make contracts over the technical affairs of the international airports with standard and international companies,” Imamuddin Ahmadi, a MoTCA spokesman told Afghan news outlet TOLOnews.
Qatari and Turkish delegations had traveled to Kabul in December last year to hold discussions with Afghan officials over running various airports in the country.
Ahead of their departure, Doha and Ankara had signed a memorandum of understanding [MoU], under which they both agreed to run five different airports together if granted the contracts by Kabul.
The travel of representatives from the allied states comes months after technical teams from Doha and Ankara managed to facilitate the resumption of civilian flights at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, following the collapse of the former Afghan government.
The teams were able to get the airport up and running within a short period of time, enabling the restart of air-travel flights as well as dozens of evacuations—the vast majority of which were operated by Doha’s national carrier, Qatar Airways.
Commenting on the latest discussions, Ahmadi said that negotiations are still taking place between Qatar, Turkey and the interim Afghan government.
“Some members of the technical teams have been infected with Covid-19. Also, with the arrival of the new year, the delegations went for vacation and therefore the negotiations have been delayed. But the technical teams are in contact, so a final decision can be reached,” Ahmadi said.
Under the technical agreement, Afghan airports will be able to increase the number of international flights between Afghanistan and other countries.
“It is important for Afghanistan to immediately reach an agreement with the Turkish and Qatari companies to pave the ground for the resumption of the international flights, so our commercial ties extend to other countries,” said Abdul Hai Qani, a political analyst, told TOLOnews.
On 15 August last year, the Taliban took over Kabul following a series of rapid territorial gains.
The former Afghan government collapsed after then-President Ashraf Ghani fled the country the moment the militants arrived at the outskirts of the capital city.
Former leader Ghani is currently in exile in the UAE after initially fleeing to Tajikistan and has since defended his decision by saying he wanted to “avoid bloodshed”.
The takeover was followed by fast-paced evacuations as western powers rushed to withdraw their troops ahead of the 31 August deadline for the complete pull out, which was set by US President Joe Biden.
This led to the chaotic scenes at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, where a number of civilians who latched onto airplanes fell to their death.
Regional heavyweight mediator Qatar has played a pivotal role as events unfolded in Afghanistan, carrying out the largest airlift of people in history. The Gulf state evacuated at least 70,000 Afghans and foreigners.
The Gulf state has continued to facilitate evacuations and provide Afghanistan with humanitarian assistance.