Nepali Times: What is the collateral damage to Nepal’s airline industry from the lockdown?
Birendra Basnet: We are down to zero. The worry is how can we take off again and reach the heights we had attained. For every one of the past five months we have earned no revenue, but we still have expenses in operations, insurance, loan repayments, salaries. We are losing up to Rs100 million a month, whereas as in an average month we were earning Rs500 million. The loss to our airline alone since the lockdown is Rs3 billion.
The government says the lockdown needs to be extended to stop a surge in infections. But the aviation and tourism sector has warned of an agitation if flights are not restarted. Why?
Restaurants and hotels were allowed to open after August 1 to spur business. In fact, all over the world, hotels and restaurants have been open under strict guidelines. We think airlines and hotels should be allowed to restart under the same protocols. We have to learn to live with this virus, keeping the economy turning while adopting safe practices.
Nepal’s airlines can take off again, Birendra B Basney
Nepal to open regular flights from 1 September