KATHMANDU, July 29: With the second wave of the coronavirus, the country's only international airport, which had become deserted, is slowly becoming busy again. The domestic terminal of the airport, which had been deserted for a long time due to the pandemic, has been crowded for some days now.
The regular domestic flights, which remained closed for about two months and have been in operation since July 1, have passengers as usual. Within a month of the resumption of domestic flights, there have been 110 daily flights. The number of domestic flights, which started at 64 daily, has now reached 110. More than 10,000 passengers are taking air service daily.
One month ago, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) allowed 15 daily flights to Yeti Airlines, 31 to Buddha Air, seven to Shree Airlines, three to Saurya Air, two to Nepal Airlines, two to Tara Air and two each to Summit and Sita Air. But on Wednesday alone, Buddha Air carried out 60 flights, Yeti 20, Shree 16, Tara four, Saurya five and Summit and Sita one each. The number of flights has doubled in a month.
According to the Tribhuvan International Airport Office, 10,999 passengers traveled on domestic flights on Sunday, 11,396 on Monday and 9,869 on Tuesday.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, there were about 300 daily flights, both inbound and outbound. Less than a month after the resumption of domestic flights, airlines said business was returning to normal. According to the Airline Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN), the latest figures show that domestic airlines are breathing a sigh of relief.
According to the AOAN, the passenger pressure seen in the domestic air service is increasing the ticket booking. Initially, there were complaints that air fares to various destinations were expensive due to limited flight permits, but the number of flights has been increasing and its direct effect on fares has started to be seen, the association said.
The association also said that the fare is getting cheaper now, compared to a month ago. Initially, the number of flights was low, and the airlines kept the fares high to cover the operational cost but now the flight frequency is on the rise resulting in a competition among airliners.
According to the airline companies, infection-free flights have been possible due to the health safety measures adopted by the airlines. Air travel is also safer than land due to the risk of floods and landslides during monsoon.
The airlines claim that the air service is becoming more reliable among the passengers as they continue to follow the prescribed health standards. The airline service providers claim that the passengers are boarding aircraft with confidence as the airport is providing services and makes passengers follow safety protocols including social distancing and sanitation set by the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization.