International flights have been reduced by 50% due to the Covid pandemic. Since the beginning of 2020, most countries started banning international flights. Soon after, Nepal also suspended both inbound and outbound flights from March 2020. According to Civil Aviation Authority Nepal (CAAN), the number of flights started decreasing following the ban on Nepal’s international flights and other countries.
Civil Aviation Authority Nepal (CAAN) stated that, as compared to 2019 data, 50% of international flights have decreased. According to 2019 data, there were 18606 international flights, while in 2020, only 9097 flights were bound to Nepal. The number of passengers also decreased along with the number of flights. 41 Lakhs 37 thousand 563 passengers had travel by air in 2019. However, in the context of 2020, there were only 10 Lakhs 29 thousand 934 passengers. Besides that, 5 Lakhs 44 thousand, and 636 people have left Nepal whereas about 4 Lakhs 85 thousand 298 people entered Nepal in 2020.
A total of 30 airlines, including Nepal flag carrier, Nepal Airlines Corporation, and private sector companies Himalaya Airlines and Buddha Air, have been operating international flights during regular hours. The foreign airlines operating international flights in Nepal are Air Arabia, Air India, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Buddha Airlines, Bhutan Airlines, Air China, China Eastern, and Sichuan Airlines. Similarly, China Southern Airlines, Druk Airlines, Etihad Airways, Fly Dubai, Cathay Dragon, Indigo Air, Jazeera Airways, Korean Air, Malaysian Airlines, Malindo Air, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, Silk Air, Tibet Airlines, and Thai Airlines.
To curb the epidemic of Covid-19, the government banned all flights from the end of March 2020. Due to unresolved issues of Covid-19, not all foreign airlines have been able to fill the scheduled flights in Nepal. As per the December 2020 flight schedule, Nepal Airlines, Himalayan, Air Arabia, Air India, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, Biman Bangladesh, Tashi Bhutan Airlines, Air China, China Southern Airlines, Fly Dubai, Duke Airlines, Indigo Air, Jazeera Airways, Malindo Air, Salaam Air, Silk, Turkish and Shree Airlines have been operating international flights.
CAAN expects international flights to pick up speed in Nepal only from mid-2021. Spokesperson Chhetri said, “We are confident that will gradually revise the government’s policy on flight safety measures adopted during the Covid period and that international flights will return to normal by the middle of the year.”