Voice from the Commonwealth Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts
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Ariana is slowly rebuilding, but it will be a long haul, not just to rebuild the fleet but to counter perceptions about an airline dubbed "Scariana" by detractors and aficionados alike and not famous for its timekeeping.
Speaking at his office in Kabul's bomb and bullet-scarred Ministry of Transportation, airline President Khalil Ahmad Najmyar says question marks about safety were unwarranted.
He points out that Ariana has not suffered an accident since he returned last year from 23 years exile in the United States to take control of an airline with just one remaining plane.
The fleet has now been built up to seven -- three Airbus 300 B4s, three Boeing 727s and a single Soviet-built Antonov-24 turboprop.
The aircraft may be aging -- the newest are the Airbuses, donated by India and built 21 years ago, while the others are of 1977 vintage.
But Najmyar says they are thoroughly maintained through contracts signed with industry-standard international firms.
He dismissed questions about safety, pointing to Ariana's successful service to Haj pilgrims late last year.
"It's not fair and the reason it's not fair is that we transported 26,000 hajji (pilgrims) from Kabul and other Afghan cities to Jeddah and brought them back and we had no problem."
Ariana now flies to six countries -- Iran, Pakistan, India, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Germany -- and has signed pacts to expand its service to China and Azerbaijan. It plans routes to Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan
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