KATHMANDU, Sep 1: Helicopter companies have removed the discount they were providing Nepali citizens on chartered rescue flights, resulting in a price hike of US$150 per hour of flight, effective from Saturday.
As per the new prices fixed by Airlines Operators’ Association of Nepal (AOAN), Nepali citizens will now have to pay US$ 1,500 per hour for rescue flights. Earlier, the rate was $1350 across the country.
The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation had fixed the rate of chartered rescue flights at $1,500 per hour on 29 August, 2015. But the helicopter companies were giving a discount for Nepali citizens as part of their corporate social responsibility.
On the other hand, the companies will charge Nepali citizens $2,000 per hour to charter helicopter for mountain flight, entertainment, or other reasons.
Likewise, the rates of both rescue and other chartered flights for foreign nationals will be $2,000.
AOAN had asked for implementation of the new prices, writing a letter on Thursday to the eight helicopter operators: Shree Air, Dynasty Pvt Ltd, Shree Prabhu Helicopters Pvt Ltd, Shree Manang Air Pvt Ltd, Shree Altitude Air Pvt Ltd, Shree Summit Helicopters Pvt Ltd, Shree Heli Everest Pvt Ltd, Shree Mountain Helicopters Service Pvt Ltd, and Shree Kailash Helicopter Services Pvt Ltd.
Two days earlier, AOAN had informed the ministry regarding the new rates. The association has not disclosed the reason behind the price hike.
On July 31, a taskforce formed by the ministry had published a report stating that there were organized irregularities in the name of helicopter rescue. A taskforce formed to investigate into fake rescue operations conducted by trekking companies in collusion with private hospitals and helicopter operators had recommended taking action against eight trekking companies, four hospitals and three helicopter companies.
However, the helicopter had companies claimed that they were not involved in any fake rescue operations and had asked the ministry to review the investigation.