Friday, February 04, 2005

Kam-Air disaster in Afghanistan

A little while ago we made the acquaintance of dodgy Afghan airline KAM-AIR and its fleet of ex-Viktor Bout aircraft, back here. We touched on the surprising appearance of YA-GAA, the Boeing 727 formerly operated for Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum by Chris Barrett-Jolley after his departure from Britain and before his coke-smuggling conviction, and the suspicious number of aircraft from Phoenix Aviation on their books. More recently, a contact recently returned from monitoring the Afghan elections told me that KAM had gone bankrupt.

Whatever the news about its finances is, one of their aircraft crashed today with heavy loss of life (FAZ report (German), BBC report). The Boeing 737 was transporting passengers from Herat to Kabul when it was diverted to Pakistan due to snowstorms. It never arrived, and the Pakistanis say it never reached Pakistani airspace (although they bizarrely don't say where it was meant to divert to, the New York Times reports it was Peshawar). 104 persons were aboard, including a largely Russian (or Kyrgyz - reports conflict) crew. According to the BBC, a NATO search and rescue mission located the wreck 22 miles northeast of Kabul.

The aircraft in question was B737-242 serial no. 22075, registered in Kyrgyzstan EX-037. Its owner is given as Phoenix Aviation, a familiar name we have dealt with before.

Update, 1615Z 04/02/05
No survivors were found. This horrific accident came a day after another suspect company, East-West Cargo aka Air West, lost an Ilyushin 76 north of Khartoum with the deaths of its Russian crew. Alongside many others, flight safety is one of "their" failings.

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