KATHMANDU: The government is preparing to allow airlines companies to add more international flights to Nepal. A meeting of the Deputy Prime Minister Ishwor Pokharel, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai and Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security Rameshow Raya Yadav has agreed to increase international flights to Nepal.
The decision comes in the wake of complaints from thousands of Nepali stranded abroad that they were facing problems to get a seat or flight to return to Nepal due to the limited number of international flights that the government has been allowing to operate amid a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases.
Though the government had reopened international flights to Nepal from September 2 after a ban of nearly five months, it has set various conditions including a limit on the number of passengers allowed to arrive in Nepal, countries from where the flights will be made and precautions that airlines and passengers must comply with.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has issued permits to international airlines to make a total of 58 regular and 27 chartered flights to Nepal in September.
According to Civil Aviation Minister Bhattarai, the government will now provide permits for additional flights to Nepal for airlines from those countries that have regular flights if they agree to bring only those passengers who are tested negative for Covid-19.
If any company that wants to send back Nepali workers to Nepal after bearing expenses, the government will prioritize permits for the flights carrying such Nepali workers, according to the agreement between four ministers.
The labour ministry will arrange flights for the stranded Nepali workers in foreign countries through Foreign Employment Welfare Fund in collaboration with respective missions.
Civil aviation minister Bhattarai said that more flights will be added for passengers in those countries where there are no regular flights based on demands.
“The government is sensitive to all Nepali brothers and sisters who are in adverse condition in foreign lands,” Minister Bhattarai wrote in a Facebook status.
“The government is making as much effort as possible for their return and will further intensify those efforts. I express my gratitude for their patience despite such adversity,” he added.