The government has made preparations to operate domestic flights in view of the approaching festivals. However, the first phase of the domestic flights would be operated from Kathmandu to destinations in the mountainous and hilly region only.
The government, which had decided to resume regular international flights by adopting specific conditions five months after the imposition of the lockdown, has also decided to start operating the domestic flights from September 1.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Yogesh Bhattarai, said the domestic flights would also be started soon keeping in mind the big festivals like Dashain, Tihar and others.
Talking to the Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS), the National News Agency, he said to begin with the domestic flights would be operated to some districts in the hilly and the mountainous region.
“There is no situation for operating domestic flights as many places of the country are presently under lockdown or restrictive order. But still the Ministry is in consultations for operating flights to few districts in the hilly and mountainous region. We will take a proposal to tis effect to the Council of Ministers after discussing with the private sector airlines companies,” he said.
The Civil Aviation Minister also made it clear that there is no immediate possibility of operating flights to the districts of the Tarai region keeping in mind the risk of COVID-19 pandemic. Before this, the government had made a decision to start the domestic and international flights from August 17.
This decision had to be suspended after the surge in coronavirus infection in various districts including in the Kathmandu Valley. “At present, the COVID-19 cases are increasing throughout the country and most of the passengers travelling by domestic flight are those coming to Kathmandu from the Tarai and the vice-versa.
Keeping in mind the possible risk, the Ministry is doing home work regarding operating domestic flights on a trial basis to the districts in the hilly and mountainous regions from the east to west for the time being. These flights would be started from September 1 itself,” Minister Bhattarai said.
Regular international flight schedule made public
Meanwhile, the Ministry has made public the schedule of the international flights to be operated for a month from September 1 to 30. As per the schedule, there will be 60 regular and 27 chartered flights in the one month’s period.
Ten airlines including Malindo Air and Malaysian Airlines of Malaysia, Turkish Airlines of Turkey, the Cathy Dragon Airlines of Hong Kong, Korean Air of Korea, China Southern and Air China of the People’s Republic of China, Air Arabia of Saudi Arabia, Qatar Airways of Qatar and Fly Dubai of the United Arab Emirates, have been given permission to operate regular flights to their respective destinations.
Likewise, among the domestic airlines, the Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has been given permission to operate flights to Narita of Japan, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
The Himalayan Airlines has been permitted to conduct flights to Chongqing of China, Malaysia and Abu Dhabi. Ten foreign and two Nepali airlines companies will together operate 60 flights in this one month.
The government had decided to start regular flights from countries where tests for coronavirus are easily available and chartered flights with conditionality from other countries, towards the international sector. The international flights would be operated so that number of passengers would not exceed 500 a day (RSS).
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