Officials of Afghanistan’s largest private airline Kam Air have rejected the claim that the airline has been smuggling opium to neighbouring Tajikistan.
Kam Air president Zmarai Kamgar Saturday said in a press conference said that the US military accusation, reported by the Wall Street Journal on Friday, is “wrong.”
“I reject the accusation of drug-smuggling by this company to Tajikistan, because there are no documents,” Kamgar said.
Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) Khan Jan Alokozai told reporters at the press conference that any responsibility for drug-smuggling lay with security officials, not the airline.
“The security officials who are in charge of checking [bags and cargo] should respond to the question of whether there were drug being smuggled by this company or not because the private sector is not the one responsible for the checks,” he said.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the US military has blacklisted Kam Air after an investigation found that the carrier has transported large quantities of opium on civilian flights to Tajikistan.
But Kabul International Airport (KIA) general manager Mohammad Yaqub Rasooli rejected the report in an interview with TOLOnews.
“There is no chance drugs could be smuggled by this company to an outside country,” he said.
“We have advanced equipment for checking the passengers. There could be no chance of smuggling drugs,” said Abdulrahim, KIA Border Police Controller.
Correspondents say that Kam Air is the first major Afghan company to be penalised by the US military over drug allegations.
It is not clear exactly how much business the company – which correspondents say has mounting debts – will lose as a result of the US blacklisting, which means no US nationals can travel on it.
Kam Air operates a fleet of some 16 planes, including Boeing 767s and 747s – and Antonov cargo planes which fly to many destinations. Its only scheduled Central Asian passenger route is between Kabul and Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.