Repatriation, regular flights to Nepal to resume
In another reversal of policy, the Nepal government announced on Tuesday that it will resume flights to repatriate Nepali workers stranded abroad till 31 August. After that airlines will be allowed to operate limited regular international flights.
On 17 August, the Covid-19 Crisis Management Committee (CCMC) abruptly cancelled permission for chartered repatriation flights that were previously scheduled till the end of the month.
Now, the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation says the chartered flights will be allowed for the coming week, so that 4,000 Nepalis stranded abroad can return. After 1 September, airlines will be allowed limited scheduled flights as long as the number of arriving passengers in Kathmandu airport does not exceed 500 daily.
The Ministry’s timetable includes chartered flights by Air Arabia from Sharjah on Tuesday, Etihad from Abu Dhabi and Fly Dubai from Dubai on Wednesday. Nepal’s own carriers, Himalaya Airlines and Nepal Airlines will conduct chartered flights from Saudi Arabia on 27 August.
On Thursday Turkish is flying in Nepalis who are stuck in Europe and North America, and Qatar Airways has a flight on Friday. Both airlines will be allowed to carry only 100 passengers inbound so as not to exceed the 500 limit at the airport.
On Saturday, Silk Air is flying in Nepalis from Australia and Singapore, while Korean Air will operate from Incheon.
All passengers will need PCR negative reports done not earlier than 72 hours prior to boarding. The government has also reversed its earlier requirement that all passengers, even those with PCR reports, have to spend at least one week in a hotel quarantine in Kathmandu at their own expense. Passengers with PCR negative reports will now be allowed to go home for 14 day self-isolation.
However, countries where PCR tests are difficult to obtain, like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, can fly to Kathmandu without those reports, but have to stay one week in hotel quarantine on arrival in Kathmandu. They have to pay the hotel costs to the airline with their tickets.
The government says it will strictly not allow airlines to mix passengers with PCR negative tests with those who do not have those tests.