As the Nepali Government has decided to resume airline services from August 17, almost 12 airlines have taken permission to operate international flights.
The airlines received permission from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and are preparing for flight operations strictly adhering to the standard health protocols.
The International Flight Operations Include:
The state-owned NAC will be operating flights for five international destinations including Dubai of UAE, Doha of Qatar, Kuala Lumpur of Malaysia, Narita of Japan and Hong Kong. However, the flight schedules are not yet finalized.
The CAAN has issued permission for the operation of 48 domestic commercial flights every day from August 17.
The domestic airline companies Yeti Air, Buddha Air and Shree Air have already completed the preparations for the resumption of flight services and have already announced ticket bookings.
The airlines are carrying out rehearsals to get accustomed to the COVID-19 health protocols.
However, the airline companies are directed to provide services for only 350 passengers per hour at the airport. And the flights will be operated from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm in the first week.
Even though the international and domestic flight operators are excited to resume operations from August 17, the rapid rise in coronavirus cases in the country puts the resumption in doubt.
The Nepal-India border areas, which are among the busiest routes of domestic flight operators, are seeing a sharp rise in cases, dampening the excitement to operate the flights.
“All the airline companies are ready to operate flights in almost all sectors from the given date. However, the number of COVID-positive cases along the border areas has been increasing each day. These routes might be affected even after flights resume,” said Prajol Thapa, Chief of the Marketing and Sales Department of Simrik Airlines.
Some of the main destinations including Birgunj, Simara, Biratnagar, Janakpur, and Bhairahawa are now COVID-19 hotspots.
“Earlier, we had planned to operate flights in all sectors following safety protocols, but the increasing number of COVID cases has forced us to reconsider, particularly the destinations that pose a high risk of COVID transmission,” added Thapa.
“We are ready to operate flights, but it will be foolish to resume flights if COVID cases continue to rise, and the public does not want to travel,” said Anil Manandhar, Corporate Head of Shree Airlines.
On the back of the growing coronavirus risk, the flight operators have decided to schedule their operations assessing the situation at the destinations, even if the government allows flight operations.