Afghanistan denies Gulf Air

GULF Air, Bahrain’s flagship carrier, is accusing Afghan aviation officials of breaching international rules controlling landing rights after two of the airline’s flights were refused entry to Kabul.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) denied an A320 carrying belly cargo permission to land in the capital, an important onward route for cargo from the Gulf. The flight was forced to return to Bahrain, where the airline had to scramble to accommodate 117 passengers on alternative flights.

Since then another aircraft bound for Kabul remained grounded because of the same reason.

Bahrain Civil Aviation Affairs has now taken up the matter with Afghanistan’s CAA.

“The Afghan authorities recently advised the airline to reduce its flights from four to two without justifiable reason and in direct contravention of the bilateral agreement in place between the Kingdom of Bahrain and Afghanistan,” Samer Majali, Gulf Air chief executive, said.

Gulf Air has charged that the refusal to permit landing contravened International Civil Aviation Organization agreements and protocols, and that no other airlines operating higher frequencies had been subjected to the same measures.

The airline is allowed to operate eight flights a week to Afghanistan under a bilateral agreement Gulf Air said. The carrier started flights to Kabul International Airport in June, choosing to operate four flights a week. With the launch, Gulf Air became the first full-service commercial carrier in the Middle East to connect to Afghanistan.

Gulf Air, which sells belly capacity on A320s, A330s and A340s, claims to have the biggest network in the Middle East offering as many as 588 flights every week.

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