National

Nepal-India flights resuming soon

Kathmandu, Dec 1

Flights between Nepal and India which were halted over the risk of COVID-19 pandemic are to be operated again at the earliest. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has made preparation to grant permission for operating New Delhi-Kathmandu flights from next week.

Joint Secretary at the Ministry, Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane said the Nepal-India flight has been finalized and it would commence within seven to 10 days from today. “The topic of starting flights has been determined. We will send a positive response to the ‘air bubble’ concept that India sent through diplomatic channel to the Ministry regarding the date of operating the flights. After this the airlines of both countries would be urged to prepare for the flight,” he said, adding that doing all this process would take maximum 10 days and flight would be operated immediately after that. According to Joint Secretary Lamichhane, only two flights would be operated on Kathmandu-Delhi route in the starting phase.

A Nepali airlines company and Indian airlines would operate flights. The two countries can increase the number of flights based on the need later on. Regular international flights were resumed on September 1 after about six months since they were halted following the shutdown imposed throughout the country on March 24 and the succeeding restrictions. However, flights to the three destinations in India – New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore – were banned as the rate of corona infection was high in India. A meeting of the Council of Ministers on November 25 had decided to accept the ‘air bubble model’ proposed by India regarding resumption of flights between the two countries.

Regarding operating flights to other countries, the Council of Ministers decided that the Ministry could grant permission for the same based on the need. The flights would be operated after the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the regulatory body, together with India’s aviation agency, prepares the flight standards. Flights from Nepal to Bangladesh, Bhutan and Thailand besides India are halted at present while flights are in operation to other destinations.

Twenty-nine airlines companies including three from Nepal have been operating international flights to various destinations in 16 countries. Decrease in international flights Meanwhile, the Tribhuvan International Airport Office said that the number of international fights has decreased. In the beginning when the international flights were opened on September 1 there used to be up to 25 flights to various international destinations on a daily basis.

Now, the number of international flights is hardly near 20 per day. TIA Office spokesperson Devchandra Lal Karna said the number of international flights has decreased of late instead of increasing. According to him, up to 20 international flights including arrival and departure are taking place from TIA at present. This number too has somewhat gone down in recent days. —

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