August 13: Airline operators have warned of protest if the government does not allow them to resume flights from September 1.
The government recently extended a ban on all commercial flights including domestic and international flights, except chartered flights for rescue operations, by 15 days due to a surge in coronavirus cases in the country after lifting lockdown.
The government had earlier said it would allow air service to resume from August 17. Airline companies had already started booking tickets. But the cabinet on Monday decided to extend the ban.
Following the latest decision of the government not to allow air service till August 31, the airline operators on Wednesday warned that they will be forced to protest if the government keeps on extending the ban on air service.
Regular flights in Nepal have come to a complete halt after the government imposed a lockdown on March 24.
The airline operators of Nepal say that other countries have already resumed domestic flights despite the Covid-19 crisis. Therefore, they urged the Government of Nepal to follow suit.
President of the Airline Operators Association of Nepal Rameshwar Thapa said that the government’s decision to extend the ban on flights at a time when they were ready to resume service was inappropriate.
“We have completed all the preparations to resume air service by following the protocols set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the guidelines fixed by the Government of Nepal,” said Thapa.
He added that they will have to close their companies if the government does not allow them to resume air service from September 1.
The association said that thousands of employees in this sector have been badly affected by the ban on air service since the last five months.
“The ban on flights has also affected rescue of people injured in floods and landslides. Pregnant women referred to the hospitals in the capital have not been able to get prompt service due to unavailability of flights,” the association said.
It is estimated that the private airline companies have had to bear losses of around Rs 5 to 6 billion due to the closure of air service since the last five months.