By Farhad Naibkhel
KABUL: The Ariana Afghan Airlines, the country’s largest airline and serves as the country’s national carrier, has planned to expand regional and international operations despite Covid-19 crisis.
The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically decreased airline traffic across all routes in the world, including Afghanistan, and had a negative impact over the aviation sectors. But the Afghan Ariana Airlines have successfully coped with the crisis and managed its negative impacts and fallouts.
In spite of coronavirus pandemic impacts, the Ariana Afghan Airlines is in a good economic situation currently, the Deputy Head in Commercial Affairs for Ariana Afghan Airlines, Mohammad Salim Rahimi told Afghanistan Times in an exclusive interview.
According to Mr. Rahimi, during the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic there were challenges but this national airline had passed all the face-up. “There is no matter of concern at the moment.”
“We, I mean the Ariana Afghan Airlines, has well progressed during the time to buy two new aircrafts to expand its operations and missions,” Mr. Rahimi said.
There is also a plan to start Kabul-Tashkent and Kabul-Islamabad flights despite other flights beyond Asia in future, he added.
Currently, Ariana Afghan Airlines as the national carrier of Afghanistan, has flights to Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif, Helmand, Farah and Uruzgan provinces in the country as well as it has flights to India, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
“Also it has VIP and VVIP flights to different countries in the world,” he elaborated.
At the present, Arian has four aircrafts, which one of them was given to Bakhtar Afghan Airline, which is a subsidiary company of the Ariana Afghan Airlines, he noted.
Hinting toward a tough competition in the market, Mr. Rahimi said that Ariana Afghan Airlines has a different mission and vision compared to other airliners.
He explained that the Ariana Afghan Airlines won’t go for a negative competition, it has a national view, and the airline will consider national issues and then will go to compete in limitation according to its capacity and capability.
He said that the Ariana Airlines never has set prices to be considered high for compatriots nor let the monopoly in prices.
Even during coronavirus, when the Ariana interfered in the market, it has avoided giving higher prices.
Pointing to the health services, he stated that no airline can offer the health services as the Arian did, particularly in the aspect of Delhi-Kabul zone.
Those patients, who need oxygen and wheelchairs, the Ariana are the first airliners that have provided these facilities, he mentioned.
Also Ariana had special healthcare programs during Covid-19 outbreak, he highlighted.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Ariana Afghan Airlines had conducted different flies to transfer health equipment to the country, he added.
He stated that Ariana Airlines had also transferred over 20,000 trapped Afghan passengers from eight countries. 3,016 Afghans transferred from India, 7,041 from the United Arab Emirates, 1,443 from Istanbul and 4,906 from Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, 37 from China, 624 from Russia and 3,293 from Saudi Arabia.
Hinting at the revenue, he said that Ariana Airlines had gained $3.4 million revenue in the last fiscal year and there is commitment to move toward goals this year.
He termed the government’s support crucial for the progress of the national airline.
Pointing toward transferring of Hajis during Hajj, he said that Ariana Airlines has responsibility to transfer them. We are doing this for five years now, he said, adding, “We are making serious efforts to operate properly as it will bring a good income to us.”
“We, the Ariana Airlines, also have a contract to transfer police and army personnel from the provinces,” he noted.
However, he talked about challenges, but assured of efforts for capacity building to improve the Ariana Airlines services and ability.
He elucidated that enough opportunity is available in the market, so commitment is more vital to have achievement. The Ariana Airlines was supported much than ever by the government in different aspects.
It is pertained to mention that Ariana Afghan Airlines is the largest and oldest airline of Afghanistan, which serve as the national carriers of the country.