Airlines allowed to operate flights with full occupancy


A meeting held at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation today decided to allow domestic airline operators to operate flights with full occupancy.

The government was forced to backtrack on its earlier direction after the airline operators refused to operate flights unless the government allows full occupancy in flights in the domestic sector.

Earlier, the government had proposed airline operators to operate flights carrying only 50 per cent passengers.

Rather they were requested to increase airfare.

However, the airline operators had turned down the government’s request citing their losses and that passengers would not be able to afford the expensive airfare.

But now that the government has relented, the airline operators have announced that flights in the domestic sector will resume from September 21.

“Airline operators were already facing huge losses due to the pandemic and the government’s proposal to operate flights with only 50 per cent occupancy was not practical. Moreover, the hiked airfare would discourage passengers from flying.

Thus, we had refused to operate flights as per the earlier direction,” said Yograj Kandel, spokesperson for Airline Operators Association of Nepal.

With a slogan of ‘Flight safety is our commitment’, the Airline Operators Association of Nepal issued a notice today informing passengers that the flights will begin to all regular sectors.

The notice has further requested all the domestic airline companies and passengers to follow the health safety protocols properly.

To regulate domestic aviation sector, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has issued ‘Guidance to Airlines, Airports and Ground Services for Operations during COVID-19’. Airline operators have also issued their own Standard Operating Procedures.

Domestic flights have been halted since March in an attempt to prevent COV- ID-19 from spreading. However, operation of emergency flights, cargo flights and chartered flights has been allowed with special permission from CAAN.

During today’s meeting, the government decided to allow airline operators to operate only 25 per cent of their regular flight schedule.

Earlier, the government had said airline operators could operate 30 per cent of their allotted slots.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 19, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.