US May Order Commercial Airlines to Help Afghanistan Evacuation: WSJ

  • The US is struggling to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies since the Taliban retook Afghanistan.
  • Officials may ask US airlines to run flights from bases in the region that are packed with evacuees, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The US military may also open up additional bases to take evacuees in order to reduce overcrowding.

The White House is considering enlisting commercial airlines to help in the US evacuations in Afghanistan, The Wall Street Journal first reported Saturday.

The military has alerted major US airlines that their help may be requested to operate flights for Afghan evacuees, either on a voluntary basis or by activating the Civil Reserve Fleet, NBC’s Josh Lederman reported.

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet was created in 1952 after WWII and can be activated during a national defense crisis to add to the US military’s aircraft capacity. Commercial airlines volunteer to participate in the program and in return are given preference for transporting cargo and personnel for the Department of Defense.

Read more: How Americans who helped prosecute the Taliban are going down a ‘black hole’ to help their Afghan interpreters

The US has been struggling this week to evacuate tens of thousands of Americans and Afghan allies since the Taliban swiftly seized control of the country on Sunday. The evacuation efforts have come under intense scrutiny, with reports of chaos and violence at the airport in Kabul as people desperately tried to flee Taliban rule.

The Biden administration is thinking about tapping up to five major US airlines to provide around 20 commercial jets to help transport evacuees, US officials told The Journal.

Airlines would be asked to run flights not from Kabul but from bases around the region, such as in Qatar and Bahrain, where thousands of evacuees are being held and are currently pushing capacity limits.

The Journal reported officials are also considering expanding the number of bases that people are being evacuated to in order to address overcrowding.

Military bases located in the US are also preparing to house Afghans that fled the country in the wake of the Taliban takeover. 

The evacuation effort at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul also hit more setbacks Saturday as US officials warned Americans to stay away from the airport over “potential security threats” and fears that ISIS could launch an attack.

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