Hamid Karzai International Airport

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Hamid Karzai International Airport
د حامدکرزی نړيوال هواي ډګر
Kam Air at Kabul Airport in 2010.jpg
A Kam Air passenger jet parked next to the older domestic terminal
Airport type Public / Military
Owner Afghanistan
Serves Kabul, Kabul Province, Afghanistan
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 5,877 ft / 1,789 m
Coordinates 34°33′57″N 069°12′44″E / 34.56583°N 69.21222°E / 34.56583; 69.21222Coordinates: 34°33′57″N 069°12′44″E / 34.56583°N 69.21222°E / 34.56583; 69.21222
KBL is located in Afghanistan
Location of airport in Afghanistan
Direction Length Surface
ft m
11/29 11,482 3,500 Paved
Source: Landings.com[1]

Hamid Karzai International Airport (Persian: میدان هوائی بین المللی حامدکرزی‎, Pashto: د حامدکرزی نړيوال هوائي ډګر‎, IATA: KBLICAO: 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. Previously known as the Kabul International Airport, it was renamed in October 2014 after former Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The decision was made by the National Assembly of Afghanistan and the Cabinet of President Ashraf Ghani.[2]

The airport has been expanded and modernized in the last decade. A new international terminal (which has free wi-fi) 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 military of Afghanistan also has a base there, while the Afghan National Police provide security inside the passenger terminals.

As of March 2015 the most frequently serviced destination from the airport was Dubai-International with no less than five passenger airlines flying the route, some with multiple daily flights.

History and construction[edit]

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 tourists from places such as North America, Europe, India and the Soviet Union started flocking to 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, 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 during the Taliban government, the airport was closed in the late 1990s, with very limited international flights.[citation needed]

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

The Kabul International Airport was built in the early 1960s. During the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979 to 1989), it was maintained and heavily used by the Soviet Army. Following their withdrawal the airport remained in control of Najibullah's government until in 1992 when rebel forces took over Kabul. By November 1996, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan governed by Burhanuddin Rabbani was in possession of the airport. They were driven out of the country during NATO "Operation Enduring Freedom" invasion, in late 2001.

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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[citation needed] In early 2012, the radar system was strengthened to cover Afghanistan's entire air space.[5][6] The construction work for a new second runway begun in 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.[2]

Military use[edit]

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.[citation needed]


The Soviet-built domestic terminal.

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.[citation needed]

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."[7]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


The following airlines offer scheduled passenger service:

Airlines Destinations
Afghan Jet International Bost/Lashkar Gah, Chaghcharan, Herat, Kandahar, Tarin Kowt/Uruzgan[8]
Air India Delhi
Ariana Afghan Airlines Ankara, Baku, Delhi, Dubai-International, Herat, Istanbul-Atatürk, Jeddah, Kandahar, Kuwait, Moscow-Sheremetyevo[9] Ürümqi
East Horizon Airlines Bamyan, Chaghcharan, Faizabad, Herat, Khost, Kunduz, Sharana,[10] Zaranj[11]
Emirates Dubai-International
flydubai Dubai-International
Kam Air Bost/Lashkar Gah, Delhi, Dubai-International, Dushanbe, Herat, Kandahar, Kunduz, Mazar-i-Sharif, Tarin Kowt/Uruzgan[12]
Mahan Air Tehran-Imam Khoemeini[13]
Pakistan International Airlines Islamabad, Peshawar[14]
Safi Airways Delhi, Dubai-International, Herat, Islamabad, Jeddah, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif[15]
SpiceJet Delhi
Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Atatürk


Airlines Destinations
Etihad Cargo[16] Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Sharjah
Coyne Airways Dubai-International
MNG Airlines Karachi, Lahore, Abu dhabi
FitsAir Dubai-International
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.[citation needed]

Accidents and incidents[edit]


  • On 2 January 1962, Iran Air Flight 123, 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.[17]
  • 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.[18]
  • 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.[19]
  • 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.[20]
  • On 29 May 1992, an Ariana Afghan Airlines Tupolev Tu-154 was struck by a missile while landing at Kabul. The nose of the aircraft was damaged but the flight landed safely. All passengers and crew survived.[21]
  • 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.[22]
  • 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 on board, but the aircraft was not damaged.[23]
  • 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, all 104 people on board had been killed.[24]
  • 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 twelve miles from Kabul. None of the 39 passengers and five crew on board the flight survived the incident.[25]
  • On 8 May 2014, Ariana Afghan Airlines Flight 312, a Boeing 737-400 operated by Ariana Afghan Airlines, ran off the runway after landing at the airport. Flight 312 originated in Delhi, India and operated on a scheduled passenger service to Kabul. On landing the airplane overshot runway 29, coming to rest on uneven terrain. The airplane was heavily damaged and six passengers were slightly injured.[26]
  • On 3 July 2014, Taliban fighters fired two rockets into the airport, destroying four helicopters. One of the four helicopters belonged to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.[27]


  • 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 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.[28]
  • 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.[29]
  • 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.[30]
  • 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.[31]
  • 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.[32]
  • On 28 August 1992, a Soviet Air Force Ilyushin Il-76MD was hit by a renegade Mujahideen rocket while boarding Russian embassy staff.[33]
  • 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.[34]

Non-aircraft related[edit]

  • On 8 September 2009, at around 8:22am local time, a suicide bombing took place near the entrance of the airport's military base.[35][36]
  • On 10 June 2013, a group of Taliban attacked, and were killed by Afghan military.
  • On 29 January 2015, three American defense contractors and one Afghan national were killed by a gunman outside the airport in late evening local time. [37]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Airport record for Kabul Khwaja Rawash International Airport at Landings.com. Retrieved 2013-08-01
  2. ^ a b Cabinet names Kabul Airport after Karzai
  3. ^ http://kabul.usembassy.gov/pre_020310.html
  4. ^ "Karzai opens Kabul air terminal". BBC News. 6 November 2008. 
  5. ^ http://www.sada-e-azadi.net/Joomla/index.php/en/capital/5352-radar-system-installed-to-ensure-air-traffic-safely
  6. ^ http://www.outlookafghanistan.net/news?post_id=3263
  7. ^ http://www.khaama.com/kabul-international-airport-to-be-provided-with-modern-equipments
  8. ^ http://www.flyaji.com/route-map
  9. ^ May 2014 Ariana Timetable, http://www.flyariana.com/sched/view.asp
  10. ^ 2014 Timetable, http://flyeasthorizon.com/flight-schedule/
  11. ^ East Horizon Airlines is proud to announce direct flight between Kabul / Zaranj / Kabul every Monday with new aircraft MA-60 (manufactured 2011) commencing from June 23, 2014., http://flyeasthorizon.com/latest-news/
  12. ^ Kam air Schedule, May 2014, https://www.kamair.com/schedule.php
  13. ^ Mahan air timetable 2014, one flight a week, http://reservations.mahan.aero/ibe/public/showFlightSchedule.action?startDate=06%2F2014&fromDst=KBL&toDst=IKA&lang=en
  14. ^ PIA schedule, search Kabul
  15. ^ August 2014 Timetable, http://www.safiairways.com/schedule
  16. ^ Etihad Cargo route map
  17. ^ Iran Air Flight 123 information
  18. ^ "YA-AAB Accident Description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  19. ^ 21 September 1984, Ariana Afghan incident
  20. ^ 12 June 1990, Aeroflot/Uzbekistan incident
  21. ^ 29 May 1992, Ariana Afghan accident
  22. ^ 19 March 1998, Ariana Afghan accident information
  23. ^ Crash of Antonov AN-24 at Kabul Airport (Afghanistan). Air-valid.
  24. ^ Kam Air Flight 904 information
  25. ^ Pamir Airways Flight 112 information
  26. ^ Aircraft Accident Boeing 737-4Y0
  27. ^ Taliban Fires Rockets At Kabul Airport Burning Down Afghan President Hamid Karzai's Chopper
  28. ^ 11 March 1985, Soviet Air Force crash information
  29. ^ 29 November 1986, Soviet Air Force crash information
  30. ^ 21 October 1987, Soviet Air Force crash information
  31. ^ 21 December 1987, Soviet Air Force crash information
  32. ^ 24 June 1988, Soviet Air Force crash information
  33. ^ 28 August 1992, Soviet Air Force crash information
  34. ^ 5 August 2008, UAE Air Force crash information
  35. ^ "Explosion shakes Afghan capital". AFP. Retrieved 2009-09-08. [dead link]
  36. ^ "Car bomb explodes near military airport in Kabul". Chron. Retrieved 2009-09-08. [dead link]
  37. ^ "Gunman kills 3 American Contractors". http://www.foxnews.com. Associated Press. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 

External links[edit]