Ariana Afghan Airlines Co. Ltd. (Pashto: د آريانا افغان هوايي شرکت; Persian: هواپیمایی آریانا), also known simply as Ariana, is the largest airline of Afghanistan and serves as the country's national carrier. Founded in 1955, Ariana is the oldest airline of Afghanistan. The company has its main base at Kabul International Airport, from where it operates domestically, and also provides international connections that link Afghanistan with China, Germany, India, Iran, Kuwait, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkey. The carrier is headquartered in Shāre Naw, Kabul, and it is wholly owned by the Afghan government. Ariana Afghan Airlines has been on the list of air carriers banned in the European Union since October 2006[update].
The airline was set up on 27 January 1955. It was established as Aryana Airlines with the assistance of Indamer Co. Ltd., which initially held a 49% interest, and the government of Afghanistan owned the balance. At the beginning, services were operated to Bahrain, India, Iran, and Lebanon, with a fleet of three Douglas DC-3s. In 1957, Pan American World Airways became the minor shareholder of the airline when it took over the 49% interest from Indamer. Domestic scheduled services started the same year. By April 1960 , a fleet of three DC-3s was being used for linking Kabul with Amritsar, Delhi, Jeddah, and Karachi, as well as with some points within Afghanistan, while a single DC-4 operated the Kabul–Kandahar–Tehran–Damascus–Beirut–Ankara–Prague–Frankfurt service, so-called "Marco Polo" route. In the early 1960s, US$1,100,000 (equivalent to $9,000,000 in 2017) from US aid to Afghanistan was used to capitalise the company.
By March 1970Boeing 727-100C, one CV-440, one DC-3 and two Douglas DC-6s that worked on routes serving the Middle East, India, Pakistan, the USSR, and Istanbul, Frankfurt and London. Domestic services were then operated by Bakhtar Alwatana, which was established by the government in 1967 for this purpose., the airline had 650 employees. At this time, the fleet comprised one
The carrier's first widebody aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, entered the fleet in early October 1979 . By March 1985 , the aircraft fleet consisted of the DC-10 and two Boeing 727-100Cs. In the mid-1980s, during the Soviet-Afghan War, the carrier was forced to sell the DC-10 to British Caledonian, as the Soviets wanted the carrier to fly the Tupolev Tu-154 as a replacement. In October 1985 , Ariana was taken over by Bakhtar, which became the country's new national airline. In 1986, Bakhtar ordered two Tupolev Tu-154Ms; the airline took possession of these aircraft in April 1987 . In February 1988 , Bakhtar was merged back into Ariana, thus creating an airline which could serve both short and long haul routes.[additional citation(s) needed]
After the end of the Soviet war in 1989 and collapse of Najibullah's government, the Taliban took over Kabul in 1996. Afghanistan faced substantial economic sanctions from the international sector during the Taliban regime. The sanctions, along with the Taliban government's control of the company and the grounding of many of the carrier's international flights, had a devastating effect on the economic health of the company through the 1990s. The fleet was reduced to only a handful of Russian and Ukrainian built An-26s, Yakovlev Yak-40s and three Boeing 727s, which were used on the longest domestic routes. In October 1996, Pakistan provided a temporary maintenance and operational base at Karachi. With no overseas assets, by 1999 Ariana's international operations consisted of flights to Dubai only; also, limited cargo flights continued into China's western provinces. However, sanctions imposed by UN Security Council Resolution 1267 forced the airline to suspend overseas operations. In November 2001 , Ariana was grounded completely.
With the Taliban's blessing, Bin Laden effectively had hijacked Ariana, the national civilian airline of Afghanistan. For four years, according to former U.S. aides and exiled Afghan officials, Ariana's passenger and charter flights ferried Islamic militants, arms, cash and opium through the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. Members of Bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network were provided false Ariana identification that gave them free run of airports in the Middle East.
Following the overthrow of the Taliban government during Operation Enduring Freedom, Ariana began to rebuild its operations in December 2001 . About a month later, the UN sanctions were finally lifted, permitting the airline to resume international routes again. In 2002, the government of India gave the carrier a gift of three ex-Air India Airbus A300s. Ariana's first international passenger flight since 1999 landed at Indira Gandhi International Airport in January 2002 , followed by routes to Pakistan and Germany in June and October the same year, respectively. In 2005, India signed an agreement on aviation cooperation with Afghanistan, with Air India training some 50 officials for Ariana.
Due to safety regulations, Ariana was mostly banned from flying into European Union airspace in March 2006 , with the European Commission allowing the carrier to fly only a single France-registered Airbus A310 into the member states; the ban was extended to the entire fleet in October of that year. The ban was confirmed in subsequent updates of the list released in late 2009 and March 2010 . In November 2010 , all Afghanistan-registered aircraft were banned from operating in the European Union. Ariana was still included in subsequent updates of the list, released in April 2012 , December 2012 , July 2013 , December 2013 , April 2014 , December 2014 , June 2015 , December 2015 , June 2016, and December 2016.
As of November 2016[update], Ariana Afghan Airlines serves three domestic and seven international destinations in Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and India; most of the routes radiate from Kabul.
Ariana operated the following equipment all through its history:
According to Aviation Safety Network, as of October 2012[update] Ariana Afghan Airlines has written off 19 aircraft involved in 13 events, seven of them being deadly. Casualties totaled 154 souls. The following list includes occurrences that led to at least one fatality, resulted in a write-off of the aircraft involved, or both.
|Date||Location||Aircraft||Tail number||Aircraft damage||Fatalities||Description||Refs|
|2 November 1959||Greece||Douglas C-47A||YA-AAD||W/O||Unknown||Unknown|||
|21 November 1959||Off Beirut||DC-4||YA-BAG||W/O||24/27||Crashed shortly after takeoff from Beirut International Airport, during initial climbout. The aircraft was due to operate the second leg of an international scheduled Frankfurt–Beirut–Tehran–Kandahar–Kabul passenger service as Flight 202.|||
|5 January 1969||London||Boeing 727-100C||YA-FAR||W/O||50||Crashed on approach to London Gatwick Airport when attempting to land in dense fog as it descended below the glideslope. Forty-eight people were killed on the plane, as well as two on the ground. The aircraft was completing an international scheduled Kabul–Kandahar–Beirut–Istanbul–Frankfurt–London passenger service as Flight 701.|||
|15 January 1969||Kabul||Douglas C-47DL||YA-BAD||W/O||Unknown||Ground collision.|||
|10 December 1988||Pakistan||An-26||Unknown||W/O||25/25||The aircraft was shot down by Pakistani fighters when it was flying a domestic Khost–Kabul passenger service.|||
|18 June 1989||Zabol||An-26||YA-BAK||W/O||6/39||Crashed into a hill when attempting to land at Zabol Airport following an in-flight opening of the ramp door. The aircraft was operating a domestic scheduled Kabul–Zaranj passenger service.|||
|1 August 1992||Kabul||Tu-154M||YA-TAP||W/O||0/0||Destroyed by a rocket while sitting at Kabul Airport.|||
|28 August 1992||Kabul||An-26||YA-BAN||W/O||Unknown|||
|11 September 1995||Jalalabad||An-26B||YA-BAO||W/O||3/46||The aircraft was completing a domestic scheduled Kabul–Jalalabad passenger service when it apparently ran out of fuel, crashing on approach to Jalalabad Airport.|||
|29 October 1997||Jalalabad||Yak-40||YA-KAE||W/O||1||Crashed on landing at Jalalabad Airport.|||
|19 March 1998||Charasyab||Boeing 727-200||YA-FAZ||W/O||45/45||Crashed in bad weather into mountainous terrain on approach to Kabul Airport. It was completing the last leg of an international non-scheduled Sharjah–Kabul–Kandahar passenger service.|||
|October 2001||Kabul||An-12B||YA-DAA||W/O||0/0||Destroyed during a U.S. bombing raid.|||
|23 March 2007||Istanbul||A300B4-200||YA-BAD||W/O||0||Overran the runway on landing at Istanbul Atatürk Airport.|||
|8 May 2014||Kabul||Boeing 737-4Y0||YA-PIB||W/O||0||Slid off the runway on landing at Kabul Airport.|||
Kabul-based Safi is the country's No. 2 airline after national carrier Ariana Afghan Airlines.
US sources say that of about £1.7 million US aid to Afghanistan, £1.1 million went into the airline.
Ariana Afghan Airlines took delivery of its first widebodied airliner, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, on October 5.
Afghanistan has bought two Tupolev Tu-154Ms to replace the McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30s sold in the West after Soviet pressure. Bakhtar Afghan Airlines president Muhammad Fedawi and chief pilot Salaam Nadran took delivery of the aircraft in late April. Bakhtar absorbed Ariana two years ago, and is now the sole Afghan carrier.
Bakhtar Airlines, the Afghani flag carrier, has ordered two Tupolev Tu-154s. The carrier has also just taken delivery of two new Antonov An-26 aircraft which will be put into operation soon. Bakhtar currently flies two Boeing 727s, two An-26s, and two An-24s, two Yak-40s and a Twin Otter on 19 domestic and six international routes.
The Afghan airline, Ariana, flies only to the United Arab Emirates; India and Saudi Arabia have stopped flights. Taliban officials say they have no overseas assets.
Ariana Afghan Airlines has resumed services between Kabul and Frankfurt, via Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates and Istanbul, after a break of 20 years. It has also selected Sharjah as its hub for Middle Eastern and European operations.
Media related to Ariana Afghan Airlines at Wikimedia Commons