January 18, 2022:
The new IEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) government is broke but is investing $128 million to buy twelve new air traffic control radars. These are to be installed all over the country and more accurately track commercial air traffic and reassure foreign airlines that it is safe to overfly Afghanistan. This will be an improvement over what the previous IRA (Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) government left behind when the IEA took control in August 2021. The departure of the United States and the final months of fighting left Afghanistan with an inadequate air traffic control system.
The new and improved air traffic control system will take at least a year to become fully operational but the expense of the new radars will be quickly recovered in the form of overflight fees. Before the IEA took power, Afghanistan was getting a $500 fee for every commercial aircraft that passed through Afghan air space and in a normal month there were over 400 such flights a day. That’s over $7 million a month. The IEA is raising that cost to $700 per aircraft after calculating that it was cheaper to pay the higher fee than to avoid Afghan air space. This means at least $10 million a month for the IEA.
A lot of the world’s commercial air traffic flies over Afghanistan because a major air traffic route is between Europe/the Middle East and India and destinations east of India. Without being able to fly over Afghanistan, it is much more expensive to airline passengers and cargo to travel this route. It takes longer and that means the cost of more fuel and other operating expenses.
The first three new radars should be operational by March.