KATHMANDU, Aug 26: As the government is gearing up preparations to resume international air service from next week, it is also mulling to resume domestic flights to and from hilly districts in the country.
Stating that festivals that are widely celebrated in the country are fast approaching, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai on Tuesday said that the ministry was positively considering the proposal to resume flights to hilly districts with necessary health safety protocols. “Many people travel back to their hometowns during this period. So we are now trying to make sure that they can travel back home safely as they did in the past,” he added.
The remarks of Minister Bhattarai comes in the wake of criticisms from domestic airlines operators that the government’s decision to shut down the service for a long time had made the entire aviation industry in the country to incur a huge loss. Sources said the government is mulling to resume domestic flights to and from hilly districts as there are minimum risks of the spread of COVID-19.
The Airlines Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN) has already warned of stringent protests if the government decides to further postpone the operation of domestic flights. They have stated that all arrangements and preparations have been made for the safe operation of aviation service.
Minister Bhattarai also stated that all concerned stakeholders are holding discussions on the implementation of the same airfare for both domestic and international passengers. Airlines charge dollar fare for international passengers which is double the fare domestic passengers pay for travelling to domestic destinations. Although this has been drawing widespread criticisms, airline companies argue that this is necessary for them to cover their operation cost.