KATHMANDU, March 22: Shree Airlines has decided to fly passengers to domestic destinations at minimum airfare against the fare determined by the government.
As the number of people leaving Kathmandu has increased with the fear of spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the airlines has decided to lower the airfare. Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli on Monday, while addressing the country, announced that all the international flights entering Nepal through Tribhuvan International Airport would be suspended from March 22 to March 31 until further notice. According to CAAN, landing permission of all scheduled international airlines carrying passengers inbound to Nepal has been suspended till March 31 midnight (Nepali standard time). Though the government had said that international flights would be suspended, it had not mentioned anything about the operation of domestic flights.
“We have been operating our flights in domestic destinations considering the increasing crowd of passengers wanting to leave Kathmandu,” said Anil Manandhar, corporate manager at Shree Airlines, “The airfare for flights outside Kathmandu is comparatively high because the flow is high in the routes in comparison to the flow to Kathmandu.” He said that the company has maintained the airfare as per the rate prepared by the government. According to the company, the lowered airfare will be valid for two days.
Nepal government has approved Rs 9,000 as the maximum fare for Kathmandu-Bhadrapur route against Rs 7,400 by Shree Airlines. As per the government's rate, Rs 7,500 is the maximum fare for Kathmandu-Biratnagar route, Rs 4,200 for Janakpur, Rs 5,000 for Pokhara and Rs 6,100 for Bhairahawa but the airlines has set Rs 6,100, Rs 3,300, Rs 3,700 and 4,900 as maximum rate for destinations like Birtanagar, Janakpur, Pokhara and Bhairahawa, respectively.
The company has stated that the decision to fly passengers in cheap fare comes in line with the government's decision to halt long haul public transport service from Monday. “The provision has been made to make traveling easier,” Manandhar said, adding, “We have lowered the price of tickets to the destinations where we have been operating the flights.”
In a meeting with airlines operators on Saturday, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Yogesh Bhattarai has requested the airlines operators to consider the revision of airfare. He said that the airlines operators should consider the minimum base rate as their maximum for the time being and maintain the existing rate of airfare. According to the ministry, the airline operators are positive towards the request and have shown determination to revise the airfare.