However, in practice, things are not that easy. Purshottam Mudbari’s daughter was returning from New York on a Qatar Airways flight last week, but no one had any clue where the Bagmati Province holding centre was.
“I was first sent to a party palace in Sukedhara, and they told me it was actually the Gandaki Province holding centre. Then they sent me to a centre in Basundhara,” he recalls. “We traveled from one place to another and waited. There was no place to sit, nothing.”
Airport records show that there have been 371 chartered flights bringing back more than 70,000 Nepali workers mainly from the Gulf and Malaysia since 16 July. After limited regular flights were allowed on 1 September, 40 flights have flown passengers in and out.
Foreigners are still not allowed to fly to Nepal, unless they are diplomats or aid agency employees. Flights to and from Indian cities have also not been allowed to resume, even though the Indian authorities have reportedly proposed an India-Nepal ‘bubble’ for air travel. Limited domestic flights have been operating for the past two months in India.
According to the CCMC, guidelines are being enforced by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and the Nepal Army. All passengers must have an RT PCR negative test report not earlier than 72 hours before departure, mandatorily must fill out an online health form from the CCMC website with a barcode that needs to be presented on arrival.
However, passengers interviewed at Kathmandu airport last week said they were asked to fill out the same forms again at the holding centre even if they had a printout of the online forms. Since the rules are so arbitrary but strict, there have been reports of airlines are not taking any chances, and refusing passengers with confirmed tickets to board unless proper forms are filled out.
CAAN has not clarified to airlines what forms need to be filled, whether print-outs are necessary or not, or if passengers can show a filled out form on their phones, and also the nature of acceptable RT PCR negative reports required.
Flights to Nepal limited by airport capacity, Nepali Times