Faced with criticism from migrant workers and Nepal’s embassies abroad for allowing only a limited daily quota of passengers to fly into Kathmandu, the government is letting airlines increase flights to meet passenger demand.
Jobless Nepali workers stranded in Saudi Arabia for the past six months demonstrated this week in their camps demanding that they be allowed home. The quota for repatriation flights had come under fire for being inadequate, impractical and driving up airfares by up to five times.
“As long as passengers have PCR negative reports, airlines will be allowed to conduct any number of flights, but the passengers will have to stay for two weeks in home quarantine,” Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Yogesh Bhattarai said in an interview on Thursday.
On 1 September, the government had allowed 10 international airlines to restart limited regular flights as well as repatriation flights from the Gulf and Malaysia stipulating that only 500 passengers would be allowed daily because of physical separation requirements at the airport.
It increased that number to 800 this week. Bhattarai said the daily quota for arriving passengers would now be raised up to 3,000.
However, only Nepali passengers and representatives of embassies and international agencies and their families are allowed to fly to Kathmandu for the time being. No tourists are allowed, and there is still no decision on flights to and from Indian cities, where thousands of Nepalis are stranded, even though people can cross the land border from India.