Afghanistan's newest airline takes to the skies, despite turbulence

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Aaron Schacter: One place finding a plane ticket could be getting a little easier is Afghanistan. Last month, the country got a new airline called Afghan Jet International Airways. Mamoon Rashid is the CEO. He's from Pakistan. I asked him here in The World studio what it was like launching the airline. Mamoon Rashid: I thought it is going to be very easy, although I was not right that it was easy. It was a very difficult task because, as the saying goes, to start an airline, when the paperwork becomes equal to an airplane load, only then, the airline flies. Schacter: Now, Afghanistan might not be the first place that comes to mind for starting a new business of any kind, let alone an airline. How much of that is true, do you think? Is that an especially challenging place to start a business or an airline? Rashid: It is really a very challenging place. There are quite, quite a few difficulties. Afghanistan has gone through hell, you know. It's a country which was nearly devastated but what I have seen from the Afghan people, they have this resolve. This was my first time going into Afghanistan - although Peshawar is nearby Jalalabad, the capital - but I had never had the opportunity to go there. But when I went there, I found people very hospitable, very caring, very helping, and I also found people that want to work. I have something like 200 people and I have found very enthusiastic young girls and boys, quite a few of them we inducted in the airline, and apart from us, maybe a dozen of expatriats, the rest are all Afghans working for the airline. Schacter: The election in Afghanistan is still ongoing. There's another round of elections for president. The US is drawing down troops, we know that. Some will still stay. Do you worry about security at all, into the future? Must be a concern. Rashid: Security is always a concern, especially in the aviation business. Aviation business is very sensitive. Anything happens in any corner of the world, like the Ukraine. There's a problem and the fuel prices go up to $115 from 98. So the security is not only dependent on the local situation, it's on the international as well, but what I have heard from all the candidates, both of them have said that they will sign the BSA. Schacter: To keep some US troops? Rashid: Yes, to keep, I think, 10,000 or so many troops. That will also keep the United States with Afghanistan. There'll be a lot of investment and it will be a new government, so whosoever wins, I believe that the situation is going to get better. Schacter: You know President Obama, over the weekend, visited Afghanistan. He want to Bagram Air Force Base. Does that affect you guys at all? What happens to airspace when a president flies in? Rashid: That happens in all of the countries. This is VVIP. Schacter: A VVIP? Rashid: So that is, you know, the airspace is closed, but Bagram is a military base. It does not affect travel. In the prohibited area you can not cross over. If you do you, that becomes risky. You will get a call that you have deviated. Schacter: Mamoon Rashid, CEO of Afghan Jet International Airways. Thanks for coming into the world. Rashid: Thank you.