The air corridor between Afghanistan and Turkey’s Istanbul city was inaugurated in Balkh province on Wednesday.

The first flight took off from Mawlana Jalaluddin Balkhi Airport in Mazar city while transferring five tons of dried fruit to Turkey which will then be taken to London.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Balkh said the corridor will help increase Afghanistan’s exports to Turkey and Europe.

“The air corridor is one of the good programs of the National Unity Government for improving exports. It is an alternative for trade and transit in landlocked Afghanistan,” said Zahruddin Shirzada, deputy minister of industry and commerce.

Balkh governor Mohammad Ishaq Rahguzar said the air corridor is a big achievement for exports in the northern region.

“I congratulate this success. It will create a good facility for national investors,” he said.

Turkey’s consulate in Balkh meanwhile stressed strengthened economic ties between Afghanistan and Turkey.

“This corridor not only connects our trade ties, but it will help Afghanistan to send its products to more countries, whereby Afghanistan will receive more assistance. So far, our country remains alongside Afghanistan as long as it wants, and will continue its support,” Turkey’s consul general said.

According to Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, carpets, dried fruit and saffron are among key export items in northern Afghanistan.

“The trade community of Balkh appreciates this initiative by President Ashraf Ghani and hopes the efforts for improvement of industry and commerce continues,” said Arash Yunusi, head of Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

Government statistics show that to date Afghanistan has sent 5,400 tons of goods, worth at least $100 million, to different countries through air corridors and on 425 flights.