Iran airspace restriction forces Nepal Airlines to cancel Doha flights

KATHMANDU: Nepal Airlines Corporation canceled its Kathmandu-Doha-Kathmandu flights on Sunday after Iran refused to allow overfly permission in its airspace citing a due amount that NAC failed to settle for years.

According to a source at NAC, the due amount as claimed by Iran aviation stands at mere Euro 11,280. A few years ago, NAC started using Muscat and UAE airspaces to reach Doha.

Now, NAC has to operate its flights to Qatar's capital through Iran airspace after some of the Gulf countries imposed airspace restrictions on flights to and from Doha after cutting ties with Qatar. “Iran allowed two flights using its airspace last week but it refused to allow overfly permission yesterday citing the due amount.”

However, the NAC happily spent a hefty sum, exceeding to the due amount claimed by Iran aviation while rerouting over 300 passengers. “The cost for rerouting as well as providing accommodation to the passengers who booked Doha and Kathmandu flights certainly exceeded 11,000 Euro,” an official said.

Over 170 passengers booked Doha flight for Monday while there were more than 135 passengers supposed to board the same NAC flight to Kathmandu in Doha.

According to a senior captain, Sunday’s incident clearly reveals how the national flag carrier is being operated to the international destinations. NAC officials were discussing the payment issues with its India-based agent Freedom Aero Services requesting the latter to manage a flight to Doha with 178 passengers for Tuesday, a senior NAC official said, adding that the same agent had managed two NAC flights to Doha last week.

Interestingly, Himalaya Airlines easily manages timely payment to its parties in Iran to use the same airspace for its regular Doha flight.

“It’s also about gross negligence on flight operations matters on part of the incumbent NAC management that is obsessed with grandiose designs of wide-bodies,” the senior captain commented.