Business & Economy

Air travel, financial services resume in Afghanistan

Kabul, Sep 4 (EFE).- The Kabul airport re-opened for domestic flights and Afghanistan’s main currency exchange and financial services center resumed operations Saturday as the Taliban pressed ahead with attempts to foster a sense of normality weeks after they swept to power.

“The first two domestic flights took off today,” Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi told Efe.

“Much technical work remains to be completed to make the airport completely operational for all domestic and international flights,” he said, adding that authorities expect the task to proceed quickly.

From Aug. 14 – a day before Kabul fell to the Taliban – until last Monday, normal activity at the airport was suspended amid the massive airlift organized by the United States and other Western governments to evacuate their citizens and tens of thousands of Afghan allies.

An employee of Kam Air, the country’s largest airline, told Efe on condition of anonymity that the carrier was resuming domestic flights and that Kam’s offices will re-open in the coming days.

Qatar dispatched a technical team to Kabul earlier this week to help get the airport back up and running.

During the evacuation, which was marred by a suicide-bombing that left nearly 200 people dead, the Taliban sought to discourage civilians from heading to the airport en masse by pledging to resume commercial flights as soon as possible following the final withdrawal of US forces on Aug. 31.

Saturday also saw the resumption of business at the Sarai Shahzada financial services center in Kabul, which had been shut down for weeks.

“The Shahzada market opened today for (currency) exchange operations and business-owners,” Taliban chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

Officials of the union representing many of the thousands of people who work at Shahzada said that they were hopeful the re-opening of the center would have a positive effect on the economy. EFE azq-bks-mvg/dr

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