International flights drop significantly at TIA

Kathmandu, March 13

Though the government has not imposed any ban on international flights to and from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), number of international flights at country’s sole international airport has slumped by over 50 per cent owing to precautionary measures adopted by national and international airline companies against spread of coronavirus.

According to the TIA office, the number of daily international flights has dropped to 35 on an average from more than 50 a day from and to TIA.

Today, only 33 international flights were operated, while the TIA office stated that the number is likely to drop even further in the coming days.

Amid this, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) also announced today that it will slash the number of its international flights. NAC will now operate only one flight a day in Kathmandu-Delhi route against two flights a day on the route earlier.

Likewise, all its flights to Bangalore scheduled between March 19 and 31 have been suspended, while all its Mumbai-bound flights have been suspended till April 15 starting from March 15.

NAC’s flights to Bangkok scheduled for March 25, flights to Hong Kong scheduled on March 19 and 26 have also been suspended. Prior to this, NAC had already suspended its flight to Doha.

As per corporation, the affected passengers can claim full refund of tickets purchased for the aforementioned flights. Passengers can also reschedule their tickets for free of cost.

While, Tibet Airlines and Sichuan Airlines had suspended all of their Nepal-bound flights since a month ago, Jazeera Airways and IndiGo Airline followed suit on Thursday.

Likewise, China Eastern and Air China have reduced the number of flights to one flight daily from four to five flights per day, while China Southern has slashed the number of its daily flights to Nepal from three to just one.

Korean Air has also cut its flights to the country to three from four earlier.

Himalaya Airlines, which offered daily services in Beijing, Guiyang, Changsha and Chongqing sectors, has temporarily suspended all its operations to China.

Similarly, Buddha Air also announced today that it was suspending its flights to Varanasi in India from March 15 till April 30.

Towards the domestic sector, the number of regular mountain flights has been slashed by 60 per cent, while 70 per cent of pre-bookings for the flights have been cancelled for this spring season, as stated by the Airline Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN).

Nearly a week ago, the association had announced that it was asking redundant staffers to go on leave without pay citing difficulty in paying salaries. Subsequently, the Union of Trekking Travels Rafting and Airlines Workers Nepal had urged AOAN to refrain from asking staffers to go on ‘forced leave’ and warned of consequences for which airline operators themselves would be responsible.

The AOAN has not issued any official response to the statement of UNITRAV.