US denies landing permission to flight carrying Americans from Kabul: Activist

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Sep 29, 2021, 02:15 PM IST

File photo. Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

Founder of a group that arranged the flight spoke with Reuters to say that the plane was at Abu Dhabi airport. The passengers include children

US Department of Homeland security on Tuesday denied landing rights to a plane carrying more than 100 Americans and US green card holders evacuated from Afghanistan, said organisers of the flight

"They will not allow a charter on an international flight into a U.S. port of entry," Bryan Stern, a founder of non-profit group Project Dynamo, said of the department's Customs and Border Protection agency.

Stern spoke with Reuters on phone from aboard a plane the group chartered from  Kam Air, a private Afghan airline. He said he had been sitting for 14 hours at Abu Dhabi airport after the plane arrived from Kabul carrying 117 people. These include 59 children.

Stern's group is one of several that emerged from ad hoc networks of US military veterans, current and former US officials and others that formed to bolster last month's US evacuation operation they saw as chaotic and badly organized.

There was no immediate comment from Homeland department. Reuters quoted an unnamed administration official who said that they were unfamiliar with the matter but that the US government typically takes time to verify the manifests of charter planes before clearing them to land in the United States.

Biden administration has said that repatriating American and green card holders unable to leave Afghanistan was its top priority.

Twenty-eight Americans, 83 green card holders and six people with U.S. Special Immigration Visas granted to Afghans who worked for the U.S. government during the 20-year war in Afghanistan were aboard the Kam Air flight, Stern said.

He had planned to transfer the passengers to a chartered Ethiopian Airlines plane for an onward flight to the United States that he said the Customs cleared to land at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

Customs then changed the clearance to Dulles International Airport outside Washington before denying the plane landing rights anywhere in the United States, he said.

"I have a big, beautiful, giant, humongous Boeing 787 that I can see parked in front of us," he said. "I have crew. I have food."

Stern said intermediaries in Kabul had obtained permission from the Taliban-run Afghan Civil Aviation Authority for the groups to send a charter flight to retrieve the passengers from Kabul airport.

(With inputs from agencies)