(Bloomberg) -- The Taliban renewed an agreement with a United Arab Emirates-based consortium to manage ground handling services at its key airports, the same organization that served under the US-backed government.

General Aviation Airport Coalition, or GAAC, will take control of Kabul, Kandahar and Herat airports for 18 months, Imamuddin Ahmadi, a spokesman of the country’s Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation said by phone Wednesday from Kabul. He added that the control towers and security of the airports will be handled by the Taliban.

The deal is an “essential step in boosting and reviving international flights,” said deputy Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi in a phone interview. The airports were being run by the Taliban since August, when they took over in Afghanistan. Before that, the same UAE group ran Kabul and other airports under the previous US-backed government. 

The Kabul International Airport was ransacked and partially damaged in August last year as thousands of people tried to board evacuation flights facilitated by the US and its allies to flee Taliban rule. During the evacuation, the airport was also hit by a suicide bombing that killed more 150 Afghans and 13 American soldiers.

The Kabul airport is now handling domestic flights and some international flights from Pakistan and Istanbul.

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