Kabul International Airport

Kabul International Airport
Kabul International Airport
دکابل نړیوال هوایی ډګر
میدان هوایی بین المللی کابل
New terminal at Kabul International Airport in 2009.jpg
KBL is located in Afghanistan
Location of airport in Afghanistan
Airport type Public/Military
Owner Ministry of Transportation and Civil Aviation
Operator Hellenic Air Force
(as a part of ISAF)[1]
Location Kabul
Hub for Ariana Afghan Airlines
Elevation AMSL 5,877 ft / 1,789 m
Coordinates 34°33′56″N 69°12′39″E / 34.56556°N 69.21083°E / 34.56556; 69.21083
Direction Length Surface
ft m
11/29 11,482 3,500 Paved

Kabul International Airport (IATA: KBLICAO: OAKB),(Pashto: دکابل نړیوال هوایی ډګر), (Persian: میدان هوایی بین المللی کابل ), also known as Khwaja Rawash Airport, is located 16 kilometers (9.9 mi) from the city center of Kabul, Afghanistan.

Kabul International Airport was built in the early 1960s at a time when Afghanistan was becoming modernized. During the 10 year Soviet war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, the airport was in full control of the Red Army. Following the Soviet withdrawal it remained in control of the Soviet-backed Afghan military that switched to private militia and other regimes until late 2001 when the United States and allies invaded Afghanistan.

At first, Kabul Airport was only for the United States armed forces and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a NATO-led peacekeeping force. After the removal of UN sanctions, in early 2002, it was finally allowed to be used for civilian airlines. The U.S. military and ISAF (with the Romanian Air Force a lead contributor in 2005) run the military section of the airport and provide security there. The Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army are in control of security inside and around the airport.


History and construction

Kabul Airport in 1969

Kabul Airport was originally built in the early 1960s by Soviet engineers. Around this time in history, Afghanistan was becoming a modernized nation and catching up with the rest of the nations in the world. Many western tourists from places such as the Americas, Europe, India, and else where started flocking to the country via Kabul Airport. This era tragically ended in the late 1970s when the country began facing political turmoil.

The airport was used by the Soviet Union's Red 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, until 1992. It fell in the hands of local mujahideen forces for several years and then was taken over by the Taliban until late 2001 when they fled the city after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Due to international sanctions under the Taliban government, the airport was closed in the late 1990s, with very limited international flights.

An American Atlas Air plane flying off from Kabul Airport in 2010.

A month following the U.S.-NATO invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Kabul International Airport was bombed and destroyed by United States armed forces. All the planes on the ground were also hit and destroyed by the pilots of the United States Air Force. The airport had not seen any development until US and NATO forces took control of the premises.

In 2006, the government of Afghanistan accepted an assistance package from the government of Japan to rebuild Kabul International Airport. The plan included a modern US$35 million terminal for international passengers. Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, and other high profile figures attended the inauguration ceremony.[2] The new terminal was officially opened to international flights on 2 June 2009. The existing terminal has been refurbished and is currently being used for domestic flights.

Passenger movements are expected to reach 100,000 by 2011, which is when Ariana Afghan Airlines and Kam Air will receive new airplanes. It is expected that the Afghan Air Force will receive 45 new aircraft by then, as well.

Military use

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 National Army Air Corps, 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 Air Corps. The first hangar facility was turned over to the Afghan National Air Corps in January 2008. The second hangar was completed later that year.

Airlines and destinations

Airlines Destinations
Air Arabia Sharjah
Air India Delhi
Ariana Afghan Airlines Ankara, Delhi, Dubai, Dushanbe, Herat, Istanbul-Atatürk, Jeddah, Kandahar, Kuwait, Mashhad, Mazar-i-Sharif, Moscow-Sheremetyevo, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, Ürümqi
Flydubai Dubai
Gulf Air Bahrain
Iran Aseman Airlines Mashhad
Kam Air Changaran, Delhi, Dubai, Dushanbe, Faizabad, Herat, Kunduz, Lashkargah, Mashhad, Mazar-i-Sharif, Tarin Kot
Safi Airways Delhi, Dubai
Turkish Airlines Islamabad, Istanbul-Atatürk
UN Humanitarian Air Service Islamabad

Cargo airlines

Airlines Destinations
Emirates SkyCargo Dubai, Hong Kong
Etihad Crystal Cargo
operated by World Airways
Abu Dhabi, Karachi, Lahore, Sharjah
Silk Way Airlines Baku



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 pad for mostly military traffic.

Fire fighting equipment is present, replacing Soviet era tenders with donations from Britain and UAE.


Transportation to and from the airport are buses, taxi and private cars. The airport is connected to Kabul from a 4 lane highway, but it shares the roadway with pedestrian traffic.

Accidents and incidents


  • On 2 January 1962, Iran Air Flight d123, a Douglas C-47 on a cargo flight, crashed while attempting to take-off from Kabul. During the take-off roll the captain noticed a malfunction in the number 1 engine followed by the aircraft veering to the left of the runway. To avoid a crash, the captain pulled the aircraft up into the air, but while attempting to turn the aircraft away from the airport, a wing struck the ground followed by a crash. Both crew members survived.[3]
  • On 15 January 1969, Douglas C-47 YA-AAB of Ariana Afghan Airlines was damaged beyond economic repair in a ground collision with Douglas DC-6 YA-DAN, also of Ariana.[4]
  • On 21 September 1984, an Ariana Afghan Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 was hit by explosive bullets while on approach to Kabul Airport. All passengers and crew survived the incident.[5]
  • On 12 June 1990, an Aeroflot Ilyushin Il-76 was struck by a missile while flying at 22,500 ft (6,858 m) causing two engines to shut down. The aircraft made a forced landing in Kabul with no flaps on an unpaved runway. All 10 crew survived.[6]
  • On 29 May 1992, an Ariana Afghan Airlines Tupolev Tu-154 was struck by a missile while landing in Kabul. The nose of the aircraft was damaged but the flight landed safely. All passengers and crew survived.[7]
  • On 19 March 1998, an Ariana Afghan Airlines Boeing 727-200 crashed into the 3,000 ft (914 m) Sharki Baratayi mountain while descending into Kabul. All 10 crew and 35 passengers on board died.[8]
  • On 16 September 2004, an Antonov An-24 operated by Kam Air, slewed off the runway while landing at Kabul slightly injuring some of the 27 passengers aboard, but the plane was not damaged.[9]
  • On 3 February 2005, Kam Air Flight 904, a Boeing 737-200 operated by Phoenix Aviation, vanished from radar screens on approach to Kabul in poor weather, sparking a massive ANA search operation for the 96 passengers and eight crew. The wreckage of the aircraft was found two days later in the mountains east of Kabul, but all 104 people on board had been killed.[10]
  • On 17 May 2010, all contact with Pamir Airways Flight 112, an Antonov An-24 operated by Pamir Airways, was lost ten minutes after departure from Kunduz Airport. After search efforts lasting four days, wreckage from the flight was located just twelve miles from Kabul. None of the 39 passengers and five crew onboard the flight survived the incident.[11]


  • On 11 March 1985, a Soviet Air Force Antonov An-30 was on an aerial photography flight in the Kabul area south of the Panjshir Valley. Upon returning to the airport, the aircraft was struck by a Strela[disambiguation needed ] missile. The captain tried to make an emergency landing at Bagram but was too high. A fire ignited by the missile strike then reached the aileron controls causing the pilots to lose control; three of the five crew members evacuated the aircraft safely, but the other two crew members died.[12]
  • On 29 November 1986, a Soviet Air Force Antonov An-26 was hit by a stinger missile while climbing out of Kabul. The aircraft was carrying several tons of S-24 rockets and 400 kg of explosives to Jalalabad in Afghanistan. All seven crew members perished.[13]
  • On 21 October 1987, a Soviet Air Force Antonov An-12BK collided with a Mil Mi-24 helicopter while taking off in poor visibility. The flight was heading for the capital city of Uzbekistan, Tashkent; 18 of the 19 passengers and crew died.[14]
  • On 21 December 1987, a Soviet Air Force Antonov An-26 was hit by a stinger missile while circling to a safe altitude shortly after take-off. The number one engine was hit causing the fuel tank to get punctured. Smoke entered the cabin so all six crew members parachuted out; the captain jumped out too close to the ground to open his parachute, he died upon impacting the ground.[15]
  • On 24 June 1988, a Soviet Air Force Antonov An-26 was hit by bullets fired from Mujahideen rebels. The aircraft crashed in Kabul killing one of the six crew members on board.[16]
  • On 28 August 1992, a Soviet Air Force Ilyushin Il-76MD was hit by a renegade Mujahideen rocket while boarding Russian embassy staff.[17]
  • On 5 August 2008, a United Arab Emirates Air Force Lockheed C-130H Hercules overran the runway upon landing in Kabul causing a fire in the forward section of the aircraft. The aircraft was carrying aid to Afghanistan. All crew members survived.[18]

Non-aircraft related

  • On 8 September 2009, a bomb blast occurred near the airport's entrance around 8:22am local time.[19][20]

See also


External links

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