State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Friday that “it is probably unreasonable to expect that there will be normal airport operations on Sept. 1” following the US military withdrawal from Kabul airport on Aug. 31.
“What we are trying to do right is to lay the groundwork to see to it that resumption of civil aviation, consistent with international civil aviation standards, can resume as quickly as possible,” Price said in a department briefing.
There is currently no plan in place for operation of the airport once US and other partner forces leave, but there are discussions ongoing between the US, Taliban, and regional countries about its fate.
Price told reporters that “teams of US and allied air traffic experts have accessed Karzai international airports for capabilities that would support the resumption of commercial operations once we depart,” but declined to say what that assessment found.
“We are departing by Aug. 31, upon that date, we are delivering, we are essentially giving the airport back to the Afghan people, but we are working with all concerned parties to facilitate a smooth transfer of both the airport and the airfield, knowing how important it is to us, knowing it is to the international community, and again how it important it is to the Taliban’s own self-interest,” Price said.