What is the National Airline of Afghanistan?

An Ariana Afghan Airlines plane. Editorial credit: Yakov Oskanov / Shutterstock.com.
An Ariana Afghan Airlines plane. Editorial credit: Yakov Oskanov / Shutterstock.com.

Afghanistan is a landlocked country in the heart of Asia. It has been the center of several powerful empires for decades. However, in the last three decades, Afghanistan has been in chaos due to major wars. Economically, the country is ranked among the poorest countries of the world. Afghanistan’s infrastructure has been severely damaged by the ongoing wars. With the constant threat to security, land travel is increasingly becoming a challenge, and air travel remains the safest and the most efficient means of transport. The country is served by several domestic and international airlines, including Safi Airways, Kam Air, Ariana Afghan Airline, and Afghan Jet International, connecting it to the rest of the world. Ariana Afghan Airline is the flag carrier of Afghanistan.

Ariana Afghan Airlines

Ariana Afghan Airlines is the largest airline in Afghanistan and also the country’s flag carrier. The airline is part of the larger Ariana Afghan Airline Company Limited, which has its main base in Kabul International Airport, where it operates its domestic and international connections linking Afghanistan with the several destinations in Europe and Asia. The airline offers both passenger and cargo freight services to all its destinations. The airline is headquartered in Share Naw, Kabul, and is fully owned by the government of Afghanistan. Although Ariana Afghan Airlines does fly to some of the European countries, it is among the air carriers that have been banned in the European Union Since October 2006.


Ariana Afghan Airlines was founded in 1955 when an American pilot relocated several Dakota Aircraft he had been operating in India after World War II. There was no air service for passengers in Afghanistan before that, even though the Afghan Air Force had been in existence for several years. The airline was established as Aryana Airlines with the help of the Indamer Company Limited, with the company holding 49% of interest, while the government held the rest. The airline’s first international destinations included Bahrain, India, Iran, and Lebanon. Domestic schedules started in 1957, the same year Pan American World Airways took over the 49% interest from Indamer. By 1960, a fleet of three aircraft linked Kabul with several cities in Asia, including Delhi, Jeddah, and Karachi. In 1989, the Taliban took over Kabul, grounding many of the carrier’s international flights, resulting in devastating economic effects on the company. Ariana Afghan Airlines began to rebuild in 2001 following the overthrow of the Taliban regime. Several sanctions and bans were lifted, allowing the airline to resume international routes. However, due to the safety regulations, the EU banned Ariana from flying into its airspace in 2006.

Destinations and Fleet

As of December 2016, Ariana Afghan Airlines serves ten domestic and international destinations, seven of which are international destinations to mainly Asian countries. Some of the international destinations include Kazakhstan, the UAE, India, Netherlands, Turkey, Germany, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, and China. Most of the routes are from Kabul International Airport, which is the airline’s main hub. The airline’s fleet consists of two Airbus A310-300 and two Boeing 737-400 aircraft. Ariana has written off 19 aircraft involved in about 13 events, seven of which were deadly.


More in Travel