Ariana Afghan Airlines, the national carrier of Afghanistan, has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to purchase six new airliners. An order of this magnitude would effectively double the existing fleet of the airlines from the current level which is reported to be of just six aircraft. The list of aircraft in the RFP that has been floated recently, includes two Boeing 767-300ERs, two Airbus A330-200s and two Bombardier Dash 8-300s. Thus the move by the airlines is to acquire four widebody airliners and two turboprops.
Currently, Ariana Airlines has two Boeing 767-300ERs the only wide-body airliners in the fleet that are on lease and are over 30 years in age. Apart from these, aircraft of Ariana Afghan Airlines are all narrowbody planes that include four Boeing 737s of which three are the -400s and one is the -500, both well over 20 years old. While the Dash 8s will be a good replacement for its aging Boeing 737s for operating on its shorter routes, the addition of four new wide-body airliners which will tantamount to massive increase in capacity, is more of a puzzle. Right now, the airline operates to three domestic and seven international destinations. These are to destinations within Russia, to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and India. Most of its flights operate out of Kabul. While European destinations remain off the table for now, the airline could look East for enhancing long haul operations. While Ariana Afghan Airlines has not indicated their plans for operation on routes by the new aircraft, the rapidly growing aviation market of the Far East would be an attractive option for flights from Kabul. Ariana Afghan Airlines has been working on rebuilding its network to provide better connectivity to Kabul.