Afghanistan now without civilian air traffic services: IATA

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NEW DELHI: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Monday said strife-torn Afghanistan is “now without provision of a civilian air traffic service” and that airlines are avoiding the airspace.
Afghanistan airspace serves major traffic flows between Europe and Asia.
“Traffic through Afghan airspace is lower than usual because of reduced demand due to Covid-19. (Countries) near Afghanistan have indicated they can accommodate additional traffic. The use of alternative routes through these states will support safe and secure operations, but will have time, operational and fuel impacts upon airlines,” IATA said in a statement.
The global body of airlines said it is participating in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Coordinated Contingency Coordination Team (CCT), which has been activated.
This standard protocol for managing such situations combines the resources of ICAO and IATA in the regions involved, all affected states, and Eurocontrol.
“Airlines normally using Afghan airspace and IATA are maintaining constant coordination and communication through the standard contingency protocols and sharing information via the IATA Global Tactical Operations Portal,” IATA added.
Before Afghanistan was completely over-run by the Taliban but the fall of the government there was imminent, ICAO had told TOI on August 10 that Afghanistan is responsible for issuing “advisories to other countries to avoid areas of its national airspace where there may be risks to the safety of civilian air operations (be they due to conflict zones).”
On Monday, the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) declared Kabul airspace — which covers the entire country — as “uncontrolled”.
ACAA issued two notice to airmen (NOTAM) advising transiting (overflying) commercial aircraft to reroute and declaring civilian side of Kabul airport closed till further notice.
Other countries and airlines have to do their own risk assessment of other countries’ airspace “While ICAO has no role in day-to-day operational matters, including risk assessment, in situations in the past where countries may have suffered the complete loss of their sovereign command and control capacities, adjacent or otherwise concerned countries have asked us to coordinate arrangements to temporarily mitigate aviation safety and air navigation risks in associated flight regions,” ICAO had told TOI last Tuesday.
Comments were sought from ICAO on Monday about their move after the collapse of the Afghan government. “I am conducting internal fact-checking to identify what information we may be in a position to provide in regard to these matters,” ICAO secretary-general’s communication officer said on Monday.

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