|Ariana Afghan Airlines was established in January 1955 by an American who moved several of his war-surplus Dakota Aircraft up from India where he had been operating on a casual basis since a few years after the last war.
Prior to this there had been no formal air service
within Afghanistan, even though the Royal Afghan Air force
had been in existence for many years.. The need and opportunity
for air service was soon recognized by the Afghan Government, and the Airline was placed on a more formal basis incorporation as "Ariana Afghan Airlines".
It was still being operated on that basis, when an agreement was reached between the Royal Afghan Government and the United States International Co-Operation Administration to finance the Airline formally, and it was incorporated as a Limited Company with 51% of the shares being owned by various entities of the Royal Afghan Government, and the remaining 49% of the shares being acquired by Pan American World Airways. This action
occupied in 1957, and shortly thereafter the Airline's name was changed to "Ariana Afghan Airlines" at the same time, the airline entered into a management contract with Pan American World Airways, financed by a grant from the U.S. I.C.A., which provided technical
assistance and active key management for the Airline, and funds were
ride available to purchase 2 DC-4 type aircraft to argument the four Dakotas which the Airlines was operating.
A group of some thirty Pan American
technicians and specialists became active in the management of the Company and it's services expanded as a personnel were trained and facilities became available. In its earlier years, the Airline's operational in
maintenance headquarters in Kandahar, a principal city in the central plains of Afghanistan. Initially, operations were from a sandy runway and all aircraft
maintenance work was done in the open with only minimum shelter.
Concurrently with the development of Ariana Afghan Airlines, the air facilities in Afghanistan were also being
developed with assistance from the U.S. Federal Aeronautics Administration, who sent a Civil Aviation Assistance Group to Afghanistan which was also financed by U.S. I.C.A. modern airport and airways plan was designed, developed, and installed the key placed in Afghanistan, and this included an elaborate terminal, and hangar facilities at Kandahar, which Ariana used as a
maintenance base. Also, concurrently, assistance was received from the Russian Government in developing an airport and terminal at Kabul, and on 1965 the operational headquarters of the Airline were moved to Kabul, and modern office facilities are shared in a building near the Kabul Airport with the Afghan Air Authority.
The mission of the Pan American project was to both run the Airline and train personnel to run and ultimately take it over. This meant years of training and development and to major extend, this has now been accomplished. Initially the Airlines was staffed with foreign pilots and mechanics, primarily Indians, and as Afghan National became trained in their respective
fields, they took over responsible positions in the Airline. All the training for primary flying was accomplished in Kandahar, on three small aircrafts. Later the pilots sent to the United States, were all acquired U.S.F.A.A.Commercial Licenses with Instrument Ratings, In all, 26 pilots were trained and of these five have also
acquired their U.S.F.A.A. Flight Engineers License. Eleven are flying as Captains, all the whom have qualified for their U.S.F.A.A. Air Transport Rating, the highest License rating obtainable. Nine mechanics have also obtained their Flight Engineer Licenses and are on flight duty. In addition, Ariana still employs two "foreign pilots", one American and one Ceylonese.
Many other specialties were trained as Dispatchers, Mechanics, a Flight Surgeon,
Communicators, Engineers, Supply people, Flight Service Specialist, and the miscellaneous people necessary for Airlines Management, Accounting, Traffic and sales. The Airline now
employs about 650 people, over 630 of whom are Afghan nationals.
The Airline added two DC-6A/Bs and a Convair 340/440 in later years and a Boeing 727-100C was acquired in March, 1968. A second Boeing 727-C was purchased in June, 1971. Some of the aircraft retired from service, and the airlines now operates the Boeing 727-Cs, and the two DC-6A/Bs - the former on international schedules, and the later on special and charter flights. All aircraft have come the bination cargo-passenger capabilities, and served the country's need for freight as we as passengers.
Formerly, Ariana served Afghanistan's domestic routes, but since January 1, 1971, these had been taken over by a government-owned domestic airline. Internationally, the Boeing Jets serve Tashkent-Moscow and Tehran-Beirut twice weekly. In addition the jets also go to Istanbul, Frankfurt and London, Paris and Amsterdam each week, as well as New Delhi, Lahore and Amritsar thrice weekly.
Early every spring, the Airline makes an all-out effort to serve the needs of the religious pilgrims on the annual pilgrimage or
"Hajj" to Mecca. For this we fly over 5000 pilgrims from Afghanistan in a concentrated effort to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and after their short period of ten or twelve days there, they are returned to Afghanistan. This pilgrimage of devout Muslims to Mecca and other Holy places in that area, is made annually literally by millions in
fulfillment of their faith.
Afghanistan has probably one of the worst set of operating conditions that can be found anywhere, and Ariana is proud that it operated successfully, notwithstanding high altitudes - Kabul airport is 6,000 feet high mountains - the famed Hindu Kush lies just to the north of Kabul, and there are high temperatures in the summer time are very cold ones in the winter. Also contended with are dust storms rising over 20,000 feet in the summer on the northern plateau, and sand storms in the Kandahar area. It is a "general airline", and a great proportion of the revenue is derived from carrying freight into Afghanistan, and Afghanistan's products of carpets, fruit, karakul, fur and sheep casings out of the country as exports. Afghanistan, as the country is truly beautiful and literally is one of the major undeveloped and "undiscovered" havens for tourists, left in the world.
It has a wonderful history relating to Alexander the Great, Ghengis Khan, and Marco Polo and their connections with this country as the crossroads of the East. In the northern part are trout fishing and hunting for the scares Marco Polo sheep, which are world famous. Sportsmen are already
clamoring for the privilege of hunting the latter.
Ariana has progressed very well in the comparatively short years of its
existence. The technical help received from Pan American has been most beneficial. In June of 1965, the Pan American group was reduced to six specialists, and this number has continued working with the airline. The advent of jet meant an extensive
program of training, both in Afghanistan in the Boeing as well as the Pratt and Whitney engine plants, for pilots, engineers, mechanics and operations personnel. Training is still
continuing and the Pan American technicians are constantly conducting on-the-job training to improve the airlines technical abilities. In the not too distant future, the technicians will leave. Then the airline will be "flying on its own", and it will, with jet equipment, retain its position as an international regional carrier in the air transport world of today...
In the year 1979, Ariana purchased a wide body aircraft DC 10, which was serving the Asia-Europe routs, and after few years of service, to the some technical problems Ariana sold that
aircraft and purchased two Topolove (TU 154) Advance Series, That during past few years of civil war Ariana lost both of them. In the mean time Ariana ordered three Boeing 727-200 advance Series from Air France and those aircraft delivered to Kabul in the year 1993. More pilots hired, and sent to Royal Jordanian Air Academy in Amman,
Jordan to obtain their ATP Licenses and after completing
their training in there, all pilots have successfully
obtained their ATP licenses.
During Taliban regime Ariana was operating with two Boeing 727-100 and one Boeing 727-200 advance
series aircraft for international routs, and four AN-24 for Domestic routs.
After collapse of the Taliban, the airline has lost six of its eight remaining planes
during United States air strikes. Now, with the Taliban out of power, the airline is trying to resume services. The remaining aircrafts are one Boeing 727-200 and one Antonov-24.
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