After being out of action for close to three months, domestic and international flights in Nepal will now resume only after 5 July.
Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Kedar Bahadur Adhikari made the announcement via twitter earlier today.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) had previously proposed resuming domestic flights with only 50% of their passenger capacity from 15 June.
However, the government rejected the idea and has instead decided to ground domestic flights until 5 July.
The Coronavirus Control and Management Committee (CCMC) headed by Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel was said to be working with CAAN to restart domestic flights as part of the government’s 5-stage strategy to bring economic activity back to normal by mid-August.
CAAN spokesperson Rajkumar Chhetri had told Nepali Times the agency was ready to start operating domestic flights and were just waiting for the green signal from the government.
Domestic operators however were negotiating with CAAN about the number of seats they have to leave empty, claiming that they cannot fly half-capacity unless fares are raised.
Meanwhile, in anticipation of reopening post COVID-19 lockdown, Kathmandu airport has made improvements in the terminal buildings, extended the runway by 300m, and expanded the internal apron to allow parking for 15 planes, up from 9 previously.
The arrival immigration hall has been upgraded, and painted circles on the floor ensure that passengers maintain a minimum distance while queueing up. The extension of the arrival area now takes passengers to the lower level receiving area.
All commercial flights have been suspended since 22 March. Only emergency flights including repatriation are allowed to fly.