Ariana Afghan Airlines has begun serving Western Europe for the first time in 20 years, after the introduction of the first of three ex-Air India Airbus A300B4s it is acquiring.

The airline is operating weekly flights to Frankfurt, which is being served every Wednesday from its Kabul base via Istanbul in Turkey. Ariana now operates the only regular service between Afghanistan and Europe. The three A300s have been donated to the airline by the Indian government (Flight International, 20-26 August). The two remaining A300s will be delivered by the end of the year.

Ariana also now flies to Dubai and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, Tehran in Iran, Amritsar and New Delhi in India, and Islamabad in Pakistan. Passengers are made up of returning Afghans and non-governmental organisation workers. Domestic flights link Kabul with Herat and Mazar-eh-Sharif.

After using the two remaining A300s for Haj flights, Ariana's priority is to resume its European routes to Amsterdam, London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle.

European regional vice-president Ekhlas Najmuddin says that the interim Afghan government is negotiating with major carriers to donate stored aircraft to the carrier's fleet. He adds that the airline is seeking long-haul aircraft for services to Los Angeles and New York.

Source: Flight International