Nepal Airlines said it’d be temporarily suspending its repatriation charter flights out of next week following several incidents of virus infections among crew members.
As of Thursday, 13 crew members including four pilots and a flight dispatcher, had tested positive for Covid-19, said Archana Khadka, spokesperson for Nepal Airlines.
“We have repatriation charter flights scheduled until July 12. Following that, we’ve decided to have a temporary suspension,” Khadka said. “The temporary break may be for eight to 10 days.” The national flag carrier operates four-five repatriation charter flights daily.
Airline sources said that employees were in a panic after their coworkers infected with virus.
The national flag carrier said that the crew had become infected despite taking all precautionary measures, from disinfecting the aircraft to using personal protective equipment. The flight team was put up in the Soaltee Hotel until they finish their obligation hours, which can be at least four flights. Then they’ll be send to their home.
According to sources, Nepal Airlines indicated its anniversary on July 1 some of the team members remaining at the hotel allegedly celebrated the event without following safety protocols. This is thought to have spread the virus.
On Monday, the airline issued a circular asking its team members to maintain social and physical distancing criteria within the hotel premises, such as the chambers, strictly.
“Crew members are asked to stay awake and to not drop their guard and struggle from Covid-19,” the internal memo said. Nepal Airlines has given a focal point person to make all agreements associated with PCR testing and additional logistics.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, airlines are asked to assess their own risk and formulate policies accordingly for members of the airport staff who test positive.
Before, two flight crew members, such as a foreign pilot of Himalaya Airlines, were also confirmed to have the COVID-19 . Previously, two flight crew members, such as a foreign pilot of Himalaya Airlines, were also confirmed to have the corona virus. Nepal Airlines now fly with three jets, two Airbus A320 and one A330. An A330 is still grounded after surviving a bird strike.
The government has suspended all scheduled international and domestic flights until July 21.