Hamid Karzai International Airport (Pashto: د حامد کرزي نړيوال هوايي ډګر; Persian: میدان هوائی بین المللی حامدکرزی; IATA: KBL, ICAO: OAKB) is located 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) from the city center of Kabul in Afghanistan. It serves as one of the nation's main international airports and as one of the largest military bases, capable of housing over one hundred aircraft. It was previously named Kabul International Airport and locally as Khwaja Rawash Airport, though it continues to be officially known by some airlines by the latter name. The airport was given its new name in 2014 in honor of former President Hamid Karzai. The decision was made by the National Assembly of Afghanistan and the Cabinet of President Ashraf Ghani.
The airport has been expanded and modernized in the last decade. A new international terminal was added and the older terminal is now used for domestic flights. A number of military bases were also built around the airport, which are used by the United States Armed Forces and NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The Afghan Air Force also has a base there, while the Afghan National Police provide security inside the passenger terminals.
As of June 2016 the most frequently serviced destination from the airport was Dubai-International with no less than four passenger airlines flying the route, some with multiple daily flights.
Kabul International Airport was originally built in the early 1960s by Soviet engineers when Afghanistan began to modernize. Tourists began visiting the country via Kabul International Airport. This era ended after the 1978 Saur Revolution, especially after the 1979 Soviet invasion.
The airport was used by the Soviet Army during the Soviet War in Afghanistan, from 1979 to 1989. It was also used by the military forces of the former President of Afghanistan, Mohammad Najibullah, remaining in their control until 1992. By November 1996, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan governed by Mullah Muhammad Omar was in possession of the airport, until late 2001 when they fled the city after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Due to international sanctions during the Taliban government, the airport was closed in the late 1990s, with very limited international flights.
Following NATO's invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Kabul International Airport was bombed by United States and coalition forces. After the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) took over control, the airport began to be developed slowly over the years. A new radar system was installed in 2005, which was upgraded by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in 2010. A new $35 million terminal for international flights was added in 2009. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other high-profile figures attended the inauguration ceremony. The new terminal was officially opened to international flights in June 2009. The existing terminal has been refurbished and is currently being used for domestic flights.
Passenger movements reached 100,000 per year by 2010 or 300 per day. In early 2012, the radar system was strengthened to cover Afghanistan's entire air space. The construction work for a new second runway began on 23 May 2012 at Kabul International Airport. The project will cost $26M and will be funded by the Japanese government, the runway will be 44 meters wide and 5.4 kilometers long with international standards.
In October 2014, the National Assembly of Afghanistan proposed naming the airport after former Afghan President Hamid Karzai in recognition of his services and contributions to the country's rebuilding. A day later the Cabinet of President Ashraf Ghani approved the name change.
The North Side Cantonment - Kabul International Airport facility was completed and turned over to the United States Armed Forces in October 2008. It houses the command facilities for the Afghan Air Force (AAF), and includes housing, administrative, operations, maintenance and recreation facilities. The project included two new hangar complexes, a new taxiway and ramps. It is the headquarters and main base of the Afghan Air Force. The first hangar facility was turned over to the AAF in January 2008. The second hangar was completed later that year.
The airport has two terminal buildings, the modern for international flights and the Soviet built one for domestic flights. Several hangars along the runway are for military aircraft. There are no hangars for civilian (or transient) aircraft. The airport has 7 helicopter pads which are used mostly for military traffic. Fire fighting equipment is present. "The firefighting equipment has a capacity of up to 12,000 liters of water and has the ability and reach of 90 meters to control fire disasters, first of such modern equipment provided for the airport."
The following airlines offer scheduled passenger service:
|Afghan Jet International||Bost/Lashkar Gah, Chaghcharan, Herat, Kandahar, Tarin Kowt/Uruzgan|
|Ariana Afghan Airlines||Ankara, Delhi, Dubai–International, Herat, Istanbul–Atatürk, Jeddah, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, Medina, Moscow–Sheremetyevo, Ürümqi|
|Kam Air||Almaty, Ankara, Bamyan, Chaghcharan, Delhi, Dubai-International, Dushanbe, Farah, Fayzabad, Herat, Islamabad, Istanbul-Atatürk, Jeddah, Kandahar, Lashkargah, Mashhad, Mazar-i-Sharif, Tarin Kowt/Uruzgan, Tashkent, Tehran–Imam Khomeini, Zaranj|
|Mahan Air||Mashhad, Tehran–Imam Khomeini|
|Pakistan International Airlines||Islamabad|
|MNG Airlines||Karachi, Lahore, Abu Dhabi|
|Silk Way Airlines||Baku|
Buses, taxi and private cars provide transportation to and from the airport. A 4 lane highway connects the airport to Kabul.
American C-17 Globemaster on the military side of Kabul International Airport in October 2011
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry's October 2010 visit to Kabul International Airport
Anders Fogh Rasmussen at Kabul Airport in 2009
|Wikinews has related news: Afghan president Hamid Karzai opens new terminal at Kabul International Airport|