Ever since the Taliban took back control of Afghanistan in mid-2021, most foreign airlines have stopped serving the country. For example, Emirates, flydubai, and Turkish Airlines ended flights, but some will return in the coming months. In Turkish Airlines’ case, flights to both Kabul and Mazār-i-Sharīf are bookable in March. Of course, things can still change.

Turkish Airlines to Kabul

Turkish Airlines has operated from Istanbul to Kabul for more than a decade. Its first flight touched down in July 2011 and, until coronavirus and then the Taliban, served the route more or less continuously until August 2021.

Since August, the market has been the hands of Afghanistan’s Kam Air, which deploys the A340-300 and – at the other end of the scale – the B737-300 on the 2,237-mile (3,601km) airport pair.

But Turkish Airlines will return soon. According to its website, its first bookable flight to Kabul is on March 27th. However, its first bookable service from Kabul is on the 26th. Intriguingly, the Star Alliance carrier has filed schedules with OAG for a January return. Regardless, it’ll run 1x daily utilizing 289-seat A330-300s, the equipment used before. It has the following schedule, with all times local:

  • Istanbul Airport to Kabul: TK706, 00:30-06:40 (4h 40m block time)
  • Kabul to Istanbul Airport: TK707, 08:55-13:00 (5h 35m)
Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-303 TC-JOG

The A330-300 has been the mainstay to Kabul. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

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Turkish Airlines to Mazār-i-Sharīf

Things are different from Istanbul to Mazār-i-Sharīf. Located near the Uzbekistan and Tajikistan borders, it launched in November 2013. Since then, OAG shows that two-thirds of flights have been by 126-seat A319s – Turkish Airlines’ lowest-capacity aircraft. After all, the route is unusual and thin; it shows exciting network planning creativity.

Reflecting market development and passenger and network contribution, it was upgauged to 151-seat B737-900ERs from late 2018 until the route ceased in July 2021.

Turkish Airlines to Afghanistan

Turkish Airlines’ flights are an important way to reach Europe and North America. Image: GCMap.

3x weekly to Mazār-i-Sharīf

Like Kabul, Mazār-i-Sharīf is returning. According to Turkish Airlines’ website, both outbound and inbound flights will be on March 29th, although, like Kabul, it’s scheduled to resume in January. There will be 3x weekly flights by B737-900ERs. Note the flight numbers; it’d have amused me if still operated by the A319.

  • Istanbul Airport to Mazār-i-Sharīf: TK736, 00:15-06:10 (4h 25m)
  • Mazār-i-Sharīf to Istanbul Airport: TK737, 07:00-10:40 (5h 10m)
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The B737-900ER will be deployed to Mazār-i-Sharīf. These have 16 fully flat business beds and 135 seats in economy. Photo: RHL Images via Flickr .

2019 was the last year unaffected by coronavirus or otherwise. That year, booking data shows that Turkish Airlines carried around 195,000 roundtrip passengers to/from Kabul and Mazār-i-Sharīf. The pair collectively had a seat load factor of approximately 88%.

About three-quarters of passengers transited over Istanbul to/from Afghanistan. Where they traveled to/from mainly reflected Afghan diaspora. Germany had the most passengers at country level – it has Europe’s highest number of diaspora – followed by the UK, wider Turkey (mainly Ankara), the US, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Canada, and France.

If broken down to airport pair level, the ten largest markets were as follows. The first time Mazār-i-Sharīf appears is in 16th position to/from Jeddah.

What do you make of aviation in Afghanistan? Let us know in the comments.

Source: simpleflying.com

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