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Expansion under way as Ariana takes A300

Ariana Afghan Airlines has taken delivery of the first of three Airbus A300B4s being donated by the Indian government as part of its rebuilding programme.

The first 20-year-old ex-Air India aircraft was delivered last week during a visit to Afghanistan by India's foreign minister, Yashwant Sinha. Two more will be delivered by October. The A300s will be used to open services to Frankfurt via Istanbul.

After Ariana lost most of its aircraft in the US-led air strikes in Afghanistan, the three A300s will allow the airline to expand services. The carrier has been rebuilding its operations since December, when limited domestic flights were resumed. International services were restarted in January after United Nations sanctions were lifted.

Air India says its government will be donating $10 million for the three aircraft, which it plans to replace with leased Airbus A310s. The Indian carrier will provide support services to Ariana for around three months to assist in handling the A300s.

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