NATO Hands Off Control of Afghan Airspace

Afghanistan on Sept. 22 took control of its own airspace after 13 years of NATO support, the alliance announced. Turkish Maj. Gen. Cahit Bakir, Resolute Support commander for Kabul International Airport, praised the occasion as a “historical milestone for Afghanistan.” Aviation is critical to both transportation and economic activity in the landlocked country, and the projected growth of aviation over the next two decades in Asia gives Afghanistan an opportunity to become a key partner in the region, said Mohammad Daud Sultanzoy, the chair of Afghanistan’s airport development project. “It behooves us to pay attention to capacity building in the aviation field, and civil aviation is poised to take advantage of that,” Sultanzoy said. Afghanistan’s airspace control is not only critical to safe military and civilian traffic, it is tied to revenue from over flight of commercial traffic and is a vital part of training for Afghan air traffic controllers and airport workers, Bakir added.