Set to open soon, Khost airport lacks global standards

KABIL (Pajhwok): The International Airport in Khost City, the capital of southeastern Khost province, is set to be opened in the near future at a time when it lacks facilities of international standards and some equipment are being transferred from Kabul for a short period. Three months ago, the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) said that construction work on the international airport in Khost was underway at a cost of 991 million afs and the facility will be opened soon.
Khost International Airport (KIA) lacks global standards: ToryalaiTakal, former assistant head of KIA, said that according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards, the airport should be furnished with Air Traffic Controller (ATC), air thermometer, safety and technical branches. In addition, he said professional and qualified individuals should operate these facilities.
Takal added: “An airport needs runway, taxiway, motorway, plane parking area, marking and lighting. Are there markings in KIA? Is there lighting? There is one AV Cheep walkie-talkie in the tower and two desks were transferred yesterday.” Another government source also acknowledged that the KIA did not meet most of the standards that an international airport should have.
The source added currently KIA is without fire brigade facility, there is no radar system, there is no lighting in the runway, there is shortage of human power and there is no human resource for the security of the airport. Imported electricity is not supplied to the airport so far instead they are using diesel based electricity, no parking areas and green areas are identified while an 11-kilometre road is not asphalted. The surrounding area of the airport is not protected and animals could easily enter the facility.
The source said that a report regarding the existing condition of the KIA had been delivered to the president, on the basis of which the president removed Mohammad QasimWafaee, head of the Civil Aviation Authority. But Wafaee said his resignation did not come as a result of below standard work at KIA, adding that the remaining activities of the airport needed six months, more funds and some other recommendations conveyed to the president which should be carried out.
He said KIA could be oprestionalised for domestic flights and it was not important that the facility should be upgraded to the international level and opened as KIA. But according to Takal, authorities were firmed to open the airport under the name of KIA and necessary equipment shall be transferred to the airport from Kabul Airport.
Equipment from another airport to be used on inauguration day: Takal said Khost Police had been asked to transfer fire-brigade to the airport and only on the inauguration day it would be used. Police Chief Najeeb Ahmad Najeeb said they handed over one fire-brigade tanker to the KIA and another will be delivered as well. Takal said Civil Aviation Authority has talked to a Company Gak to build a temporary terminal that will work during inauguration day.
He said GAK had talked with Mohammad Mandozi Company for shifting some equipment from Kabul Airport to Khost province and then bringing them back to Kabul after the airport’s inauguration. Mohammad Mandozi, head of the company, also confirmed they had talked with GAK Company about transportation of some machines from Kabul Airport to Khost for five days and then taking them back to Kabul.
ToryaliTakkal said that security check was an important issue at terminals in airports as Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) has a contract with a foreign company named ‘Longfort’ for security of airports of Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat and Kandahar provinces and the company has been asked to also provide security check for Khost Airport. Pajhwok shared the issue with an official of the company, Arash via Whatsapp, but he did not respond as of today.
Fictitious inauguration of airport to mislead the president: Takkal said, “As the ACAA has no standard facilities in its airports for international flights and neither it has budget to provide facilities to Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar airports, the fictitious inauguration of a fourth international airfield is cheat the president and the people of Khost.”
He said that ACAA reported to the president two months ago that Khost Airport was ready for inauguration while the provincial governor’s house in its own report had said that the airport’s terminal was still under construction. On May 30, ACAA in a letter to its projects and planning office wrote that they received a letter in response to a report in which the president had wrote that he would not go to Khost only for inauguration ceremony of Khost Airport, but he wanted a real inauguration of the project.
Mohammad Musa Khawrin, a lawmaker from Khost province, said that the president had postponed the inauguration and called it ‘only a show’. However, he did not provide further details on the regard.
Khost Airport to inaugurate in near future: Abdul SammadTaniwal, chief of Khost Airport said that the traffic control personnel of the airport were professionally trained but their number was inadequate. He said that the airport’s terminal was built based on international standards and 12 scanner machines were also installed inside. He said that 12 objects detector gates were also installed in the airport that could detect metals and explosives. Furniture worth 20 million afghanis had been ordered abroad for the airport that would arrive in near future, he added.
Taniwal said that 150 border forces were also deployed for security of the airport that was equipped with 14 security towers. There would be three security belts at the entrance of the airport which would be deployed with police, Afghan army and border forces, he added. Without going into details, he said that the airport would probably be inaugurated in the near future. He added that an authorized team from ACAA would arrive in Khost on Friday for general assessment of the airport.
However, Fahd DaudMomand, head of ACAA ,said that work on the airport was still underway and it was earlier to say what the facility still needed. “When we announce the date for the inauguration, then we would be able to provide all information if anyone asks that time…,” he added. Momand said that an airport was usually not inaugurated with a hundred percent completion, but only with completion of fundamental parts and some parts could be under construction later.