World Airline History

Ariana Afghan Airlines


Ariana Afghan Airlines DC-10-30 YA-LAS

Early Years

The airline was set up on 27 January 1955.[8] It was established as Aryana Airlines with the assistance of Indamer Co. Ltd., which initially held a 49% interest, and the government of Afghanistan owned the balance.[9] At the beginning, services were operated to Bahrain, India, Iran, and Lebanon, with a fleet of three Douglas DC-3s.[9] In 1957, Pan American World Airways became the minor shareholder of the airline when it took over the 49% interest from Indamer.[10] Domestic scheduled services started the same year.[10] By April 1960, a fleet of three DC-3s was being used for linking Kabul with Amritsar, Delhi, Jeddah, and Karachi, as well as with some points within Afghanistan, while a single DC-4 operated the Kabul–Kandahar–TehranDamascusBeirutAnkaraPragueFrankfurt service, so-called “Marco Polo” route.[10] In the early 1960s, US$1,100,000($8,769,066 in 2015) from US aid to Afghanistan was used to capitalise the company.[11]

By March 1970, the airline had 650 employees. At this time, the fleet comprised one Boeing 727-100C, one CV-440, one DC-3 and two Douglas DC-6s that worked on routes serving the Middle East, India, Pakistan, theUSSR, and Istanbul, Frankfurt and London.[12] Domestic services were then operated by Bakhtar Alwatana, which was established by the government in 1967 to this specific purpose.[13]

The carrier’s first widebody aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, entered the fleet in early October 1979.[14] By March 1985, the aircraft fleet consisted of the DC-10 and two Boeing 727-100Cs.[15] In the mid-1980s, during the Soviet-Afghan War, the carrier was forced to sell the DC-10 to British Caledonian, as the Soviets wanted the carrier to fly the Tupolev Tu-154 as a replacement.[7] In October 1985, Ariana was taken over byBakhtar, which became the country’s new national airline.[13][16] In 1986, Bakhtar ordered two Tupolev Tu-154Ms;[17] the airline took possession of these aircraft in April 1987.[16] In February 1988, Bakhtar was merged back into Ariana, thus creating an airline which could serve both short and long haul routes.

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