KATHMANDU, June 13: The airfare of Nepal Airlines Corporation’s (NAC) evacuation flights from Gulf countries was reduced by an extra 100 US dollar on Saturday. The ticket prices had already been revised once prior to the new revision.
“The reduction will be applicable to all the NAC flights from Gulf countries,” said Rajan Poudel, under secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA). However, Himalaya Airlines has not revised its airfare after the second revision.
The government had revised the airfare amidst growing criticism for making already suffering Nepalis pay for pricey tickets to come back home. “The foreign international Airlines that will be operating evacuation flights will set the airfare on their own,” Poudel told Republica.
As the people who are willing to return fall in the category of those having hard times abroad, making them pay double the regular price has made people mad. The airfare to return from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was US $450, and for Qatar and Bahrain, it was US $490 each.
Similarly, the price of the tickets for Nepalis flying from Kuwait was US $510, Oman US $460. The price of the tickets was fixed at US $565 and US $690 for flights from Riyadh, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, respectively. Now, the passengers need to pay US $100 less for special chartered flights operated by the NAC.
An NAC official seeking anonymity said that the NAC was hopeful of financial benefits from the charter flights as it was confident of handling a maximum number of evacuation charter flights. “There was no need to bring in foreign international airlines to begin with,” the source told Republica, adding, “The government should have given that chance to the national airlines instead.”
The ministry had fixed the airfare for 25 countries from where the government is planning to bring stranded Nepalis. The diplomatic missions of Nepal in the respective countries have called those interested in returning home to register and book flights for the non-scheduled charter flights. Nepal has planned 67 flights in the period of 15 days. Nepalis from 25 countries will be brought through two-Nepal based international airlines and other foreign international airlines.
Nepal Airlines Corporation has 24 flights, Himalaya Airlines has 19 and the remaining 24 flights will be operated by foreign international flights.
The government will bring almost 25,000 Nepalis in the first phase. Nepalis whose visas and employment contracts have expired, who have been asked to stay on a long leave and also those who have gone to the countries for traveling purposes and have been stranded due to the suspension of flights in the Nepali sky will be brought back in the first phase. The returnees will then be sent to holding centers in the Kathmandu Valley and later will be shifted to hotel quarantines or the facility prepared by the government.