Evacuation flights by Nepali int’l operators for postponed

KATHMANDU, June 15: Evacuation charter flights scheduled to be operated on Monday by Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) and Himalaya Airlines have been postponed following the diplomatic missions’ incompetency to collect PCR test reports. The diplomatic missions of Nepal situated abroad are responsible for coordinating the special charter flights.

NAC and Himalaya Airlines had five charter flights from destinations like the Maldives, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Cambodia that were supposed to bring back Nepalis stranded in these countries. “The flights had to be postponed as the passengers were unable to produce their PCR test reports to the embassies on time,” said Archana Khadka, spokesperson for NAC. The national flag carrier was supposed to operate two flights on Monday from the Maldives and Malaysia. The government has made PRC negative reports mandatory for passengers before boarding any aircraft headed to Nepal.

However, Himalaya Airlines issuing a flight schedule has said that the evacuation flights will start from Tuesday. “Though the government prepared the evacuation schedule, there were many operational constraints that need to be taken care of before carrying out the flights,” said Ujjwala Dali, head of brand and service department at Himalaya Airlines. “We have released the schedule of 11 flights upto June 20 and until June 25 Himalaya Airlines will carry out all 19 flights as stated by the government.”

She informed khabarmala Online that there are some new destinations and the airlines need to complete the processing which takes time. “The flight schedule made public today has been confirmed,” she further added. “It is subjected to change only if the criteria set by the airlines are not met. Otherwise, all flights will be carried out.”

According to NAC, the flights from the UAE on Tuesday will take place whereas the flight from Malaysia have not been confirmed. “We are in the process for the operation of flights as per the schedule released by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation,” Khadka told Republica Online adding that the flights have been postponed and not canceled.

Meanwhile, A SalamAir OV-427 aircraft carried 166 Nepali passengers to Nepal from Oman today. The passengers have been sent to holding centers and will later be shifted to provincial quarantine facilities. Similarly, NAC on Sunday brought 259 Nepalis from Bangladesh.

Six evacuation flights to bring back Nepalis stranded abroad have been carried out since the government decided to bring home its citizens who have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Nepal has planned 67 evacuation flights, of which 43 will be handled by two Nepali international air service operators and the remaining will be carried out by foreign international airlines.

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