Chopper operators on alert for emergency flights

Kathmandu, April 14

A high-level meeting of the government held on Sunday has directed chopper operators to be alert for operations of emergency flights.

As the threat of the coronavirus increases each day in the country, a meeting led by Deputy Prime Minister Ishwor Pokhrel, who is also the minister of defence, has decided to send letters to all the chopper operators directing them to be ready for rescue flights.

As per the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), all the chopper operators were informed of the decision on Sunday and starting from Monday operators have started the needful works for the rescue flights.

According to CAAN, positive cases of coronavirus is increasing each day in the county and the infection is likely to further rise in the coming days, hence the government has decided to deploy choppers for rescue purposes.

As per CAAN, the companies have made the necessary arrangements and choppers are on standby in Dhangadhi, Nepalgunj, Biratnagar and Kathmandu following the government’s direction.

The decision of the high-level committee has mentioned that choppers may need to be deployed to transport swab samples as well as medical teams to different locations across the country, as per the Airline Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN). The association stated that the choppers will also be utilised for rescue operations, if needed. AOAN has also requested all chopper operators to cooperate with the government in this crisis.

Since the lockdown was imposed, a total of 27 choppers of 10 helicopter operators are grounded at the moment, except for rescue flights.

The chopper operators have also decided to slash the wages of pilots and engineers as the companies are at loss due to the coronavirus.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 15, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.