NAC off to Narita flying in the face of apex court order

Kathmandu, March 2

Nepal Airlines Corporation started its commercial flight to Narita in Japan today ignoring the Supreme Court’s direction to the government to halt air service to and from coronavirus infected countries.

Archana Khadka, spokesperson for NAC, defended the decision to go ahead with the Narita flight saying, “We had been working to launch this sector for a very long time and tickets were already booked for the inaugural flight.” She claimed that the corporation had not received any objection letter or notice regarding flight operations to Japan. She hastened to add that NAC would halt flights after receiving formal order from the apex court.

Carrying 234 passengers from Nepal, the national flag carrier flew to Narita today and returned with 265 passengers, according to NAC. NAC has initiated flights to Narita, shifting its service from Osaka.

As Narita is economically more viable than Osaka, NAC had halted flights to the latter destination on February 27.

A jumbo team of government representatives also travelled to Narita on its inaugural flight. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation had announced yesterday that no formal programme would be conducted during the inaugural flight on the Kathmandu-Narita route.

“We cannot take any action unless we receive a formal letter from SC. We’ll submit our report to the MoCTCA on Tuesday. The government’s final decision will be implemented then,” said Rajan Pokhrel, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs has directed the authorities concerned to halt the distribution of on-arrival visas to passengers travelling from China, South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy from March 10.