Limited passenger flights to Turkey to begin Thursday and Qatar next weekFlights allowed to China as well but the country is yet to lift its travel ban.
Nepal’s civil aviation body on Monday announced the opening of limited passenger flights to and from key international gateways like Turkey, Qatar and China.
The announcement, as per a Cabinet decision earlier, has fixed the days of weekly flights to these destinations. Earlier only chartered flights were allowed and they were allegedly charging exorbitant fares.
According to Rajan Pokhrel, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, Turkish Airlines flights on the Kathmandu-Istanbul route have been approved for every Thursday beginning June 3.
Doha-based Qatar Airways has applied for flights every Monday beginning June 7 while Nepal Airlines will operate a flight every Tuesday on the same route.
“The national flag carrier is yet to submit its schedule,” Pokhrel told the Post.
Private carrier, Himalaya Airlines is yet to apply for passenger flights to and from China as China is yet to allow flights since it imposed a travel ban from all countries in March 2020.
According to the Tourism Ministry, the Nepali embassy in Malaysia and French embassy in Nepal including the Delegation of the European Union to Nepal had requested to open passenger flights.
Last Thursday, the Cabinet meeting took a decision to open limited passenger flights in addition to the two weekly flights (one of Nepal Airlines and one of Air India) on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector under the air bubble arrangement in which Nepali and Indian citizens are allowed to travel following strict health safety protocols.
The government had imposed a ban on all international flights, except those between Kathmandu and New Delhi, from May 6 midnight as the second wave of the pandemic gripped the country.
The Tourism Ministry has also drafted a new travel protocol in the wake of the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
As per the protocol, all incoming passengers, including Nepalis and foreigners, have to spend a mandatory 10 days of quarantine in the government listed hotels but has made exceptions in some cases on where they can spend this period.
Arrivals have to submit documents of hotel booking for quarantine for 10 days after which if they test positive for Covid-19, they have to spend another 10 days in isolation centres or hotels designated by the government or hospitals.
A team of the Health Ministry will examine the documents of passengers arriving at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport.
Sick people as well as their carers and people with disabilities, certified by hospitals and with recommendations from respective local governments, will be allowed home quarantine .
Citizens above 75 years of age and children below 5 years and their guardians are allowed to spend home quarantine provided they have their local government’s recommendation.
Diplomats and their families, based on the recommendation of the mission, are allowed to spend 10 days’ of quarantine in the place designated or recommended by the mission.
Nepali health professionals or medical students coming to Nepal to support the Covid-19 control measures, will have to spend 10 days in quarantine at a place designated by the Health Ministry.
Government employees and security personnels returning to Nepal, are also allowed to stay in home quarantine based on their office recommendation.
The sick, disabled, Nepali citizens above 75 year and below five years and their guardians, diplomats and their families, Nepali health professionals, medical students, government employees and security personnel have to do polymerase chain reaction tests on the 4th day and 14th day of their arrival.
Migrant workers returning from the Middle East and Gulf countries and Malaysia have to spend 15 days in quarantine, five of which have to be in a hotel. If their PCR test after five days is negative, they have to spend 10 in home quarantine.
Those coming for emergency purposes like for funerals and mourning, have to spend 10 days in home quarantine. They have to do a mandatory PCR test after 11 days.
In the case of all those spending their quarantine in the hotels, the hotel should inform the local police immediately if any one is found flouting the rules and violators will be punished under the Covid-19 Risk Management Ordinance-2021 as per which they can face up to one year in jail or can be subjected to a penalty of up to Rs500,000 or both.