DOT Allows Foreign Carriers To Operate Afghanistan Evacuations
The Department of Transportation (DOT) of the United States has made it easier for foreign airlines to perform evacuation flights. The DOT has issued blanket licences for international airlines to participate in the evacuation flights until September 30th, with the purpose of speeding up the evacuation of refugees and vital people from Afghanistan.
DOT loosens permissions for foreign airlines
The US Department of Transportation issued a directive on Friday, August 20th, extending licences for international airlines to operate passenger evacuation flights from Afghanistan. The Department of Transportation is issuing this licence to provide foreign airlines who do not have economic authority to conduct flights to the United States more flexibility in operating aircraft in support of the mission.
With this enhanced authority, the DOT will only authorise foreign civil aircraft operators to operate US Government (USG)-sponsored flights conveying evacuees. The evacuation include American citizens, Afghan Special Interest Visa (SIV) programme officials, and other travellers who have gone through biometric screening.
Some foreign airlines are already conducting these operations for the US government:
5 flights carrying more than 850 Americans & Embassy Kabul personnel have already left #Kuwait en route to 🇺🇸. Huge thanks to our Kuwaiti partners, our dedicated diplomats & @DeptofDefense colleagues working around the clock to ensure U.S. citizens & our partners get home safely. pic.twitter.com/3SAUf9K0Zf— Ambassador Alina Romanowski (@USAmbKuwait) August 21, 2021
The US has engaged Gulf Air, located in Bahrain, to fly evacuation flights from Bahrain to the United States as part of this operation. Over the following 30 days, the airline will operate a series of flights under an oral arrangement that has now been formalised in writing.
US government getting as much help as it can
The number of evacuees outnumbers the number of seats available. For most people, military-sponsored evacuations have been their only option due to a lack of viable commercial alternatives. The government needs all the support it can get to remove its citizens, personnel, and refugees out of Afghanistan.
The Civil Reserve Air Fleet was also mobilised by the US government over the weekend (CRAF). The US government used this scheme to gather 18 widebody planes from commercial airlines to help with the evacuation. The commercial planes are assisting in the transport of evacuees currently stationed at US bases in the Middle East and Europe to the United States. Even with these planes involved in the missions, more commercial planes are needed to transport the evacuees.
US carriers are also part of the evacuation. Photo: Getty Images
Commercial airlines have also been used by other governments to assist in the evacuation of citizens. This covers Lufthansa and Air India in Germany. Lufthansa flights from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to Frankfurt, Germany, transported almost 1,500 passengers in a week.
A temporary situation
The permits have been eased till September 30th, 2021. Airlines assisting with the evacuation must be in good standing in terms of safety and must adhere to all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards in order to participate in the operation.
In Afghanistan, evacuations are underway, but commercial airlines are assisting in the transit of passengers from US bases abroad to the United States. Photo: Getty Images
Most airlines across the world have a few extra widebodies that aren’t currently being used on busy commercial routes. This is good news for the US government since it means more planes are available to contract for evacuation missions.
The goal is to get as many airlines involved as feasible in the evacuation of passenger traffic from Afghanistan so that US citizens and allies can support the country’s US mission.
Cover Photo Credit: Getty Images