Ariana Afghan Airlines was established in January 1955. An American commercial pilot relocated several war-surplus Dakota Aircraft to Afghanistan which he had been operating as a private air service in India after the end of World War ll. Prior to that there had been no air service for passengers within Afghanistan, even though the Royal Afghan Air Force had been in existence for some years. The utility of air travel was soon recognized by the Afghan Government, and the airlines was incorporated more formally as "Ariana Afghan Airlines".
An interesting footnote to that event was that the Shah of Afghanistan personally designed the logo for the new airline, the very same logo which is still proudly retained. The design represents the Afghan Swallow whose graceful fight has always delighted Afghans throughout the ages, and the blue field was inspired by precious stone lapis lazuli, found uniquely in the high mountains of Afghanistan.
In 1957 an agreement was negotiated between the Royal Afghan Government and the United States International Co-Operation Administration (ICA) to create a partnership with a leading American airline company. Ariana was reincorporated as a limited Liability Company with 51% of the shares owned by various entitles of the Afghan Government, and the remaining 49% acquired by Pan American World Airways. PanAm's management contract featured technical assistance as well as the controlling management role. Two DC-4 type aircraft were purchased with the assistance of ICA to augment the four Dakotas which Ariana was still operating.
Some thirty PanAm technicians and managers were assigned in a full-time basis to the joint venture. Services expanded as Afghan personal were trained and more facilities became available. During those early years, the airline's operational and maintenance headquarters was located in Kandahar, the second city of Afghanistan located in the southern plains and well suited to airline operations because of the lack of adjacent mountain ranges. Initial operations were from a sandy runway, and maintenance work was done in the open with only minimum shelter.
Concurrent with the development of Ariana as the national carrier, air facilities in Afghanistan were being developed with assistance from the U.S Federal Aeronautics Administration (FAA) and continued funding from ICA. A modern airport and air traffic plan was developed for Kandahar, featuring advances terminal and hangar facilities. Meantime, assistance was granted by the Soviet Union to develop the airport at Kabul, and in 1965 the operational headquarters of Ariana moved to Kabul to share modern office facilities with the Afghan Air Authority.