In collaboration with a private hospital in Nepal, Air Arabia has started a flight to Dubai by arranging a rapid test of Covid-19 at the Tribhuvan International Airport. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has introduced a rapid test for all passengers at the airport before boarding aircraft, effective from August 7.
One hundred fifty passengers were prohibited from going to Dubai on Monday evening due to the lack of test system at Tribhuvan International Airport. Air Arabia has prepared testing from Thursday after arranging a rapid test collaborating with a private hospital. But Nepal Airlines Corporation and Himalayan Airlines, which have been flying to the UAE from Nepal, have not made any arrangements. Air Arabia has been flying from Nepal to Sharjah and the capital Abu Dhabi.
According to Rajendra Chhetri, spokesperson of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, Air Arabia has arranged rapid tests at the airport on its own initiative. He said that discussions are underway on how many machines can be brought into operation at the airport as testing is not done in any government hospital.
Dimprakash Poudel, general manager of Nepal Airlines Corporation, one of the two companies that could not fly to Dubai, said that discussions had been held with the airport, the Ministry of Health, the Department of Health Services and a solution will be found soon.
Vice President of Himalayan Airlines, Vijay Shrestha, informed that the service would be started only after the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism and other agencies bring the facility of the rapid test at the airport. “We are cooperating with the concerned bodies as the agency approved by the Ministry of Health has sought the test report issued from inside the international airport,” he said. He complained that the problem was compounded because the plane, which was facing financial difficulties, was still having one-way flights. He also expressed confidence that the issue would be resolved soon.
After the test arrangement by Air Arabia, the way has been opened for the Nepali workers who are on leave from foreign employment to return to work. The Air Transport Operations Dubai Civil Aviation Authority has imposed a rule that Nepalis entering their country must submit a negative PCR report of the coronavirus within 48 hours and a negative rapid test report at the airport within four hours before boarding. In the absence of this, the airlines were forced to return the passengers at midnight. Himalayan Airlines and Nepal Airlines Corporation had departed to Dubai on Monday night to carry up the passengers.
Passengers have complained that the airline has been increasing fares as it has not been able to carry passengers from Nepal. It is alleged that passengers in the sector, which used to charge Rs 17,000 to Rs 20,000, are now charging up to Rs 35,000. In the case of passengers who have already bought tickets, the old price has been maintained.
Meanwhile, Nepali workers flying to the UAE have been harassed by the government for not paying attention to the rapid test at the airport for Nepalis going to the UAE for foreign employment. According to sources, Nepal Airlines Corporation and Himalayan Airlines have kept 45 passengers in the hotel for two days.
Passengers who were not allowed to fly with tickets were sent home saying that they would be given priority in the first flight after the government arranged for testing at Tribhuvan International Airport. Currently, the corporation has been operating two Kathmandu-Dubai-Kathmandu flights a week and a Himalayan three a week.
The corporation has claimed that at least ten rapid PCR test machines are required at the airport. Workers have demanded the government make arrangements for immediate testing at the airport immediately.
The UAE has recently listed India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, and Uganda as high-risk countries for corona, including Nepal.