If the circumstance had been regular, the country’s only Tribhuvan International Airport would have bustled with between 12,000 and 15,000 passengers a day.
Now the situation is not favorable. As with every other sector, the effects of the Covid-19, which spread like a global outbreak, has affected Nepal’s aviation industry. Where there have been five months without commercial flights. Not only international flights have come to a standstill but also domestic ones.
Commercial flights have not yet commenced for precisely five months, due to the lockdown and the final suspension imposed for the Covid-19 regulation.
In the meantime, there were limited flights for the rescue and cargo of stranded Nepalis abroad. Five months after the lockdown, regular international flights have been operating since September 1 onwards.
The regulator body Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has confirmed that all appropriate arrangements for the flight have been made in compliance with the flight schedule prepared and released by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. The Ministry of Tourism has already made the international one-month flight schedule public for September 1 to 30.
There will be 60 regular flights and 27 charter flights per month. According to CAAN, a total of 12 airlines operate international flights, including 10 foreign airlines including two Nepal Airlines Corporation (Nepal Airlines) and Himalaya Airlines.
CAAN spokesperson Raj Kumar Chhetri said all arrangements for daily international flights and chartered flights were made as from September 1. According to him, whilst there will be international flights, when domestic flights will begin has not been determined yet. The airport is fully involved in coordinating daily international flights.
However, in the last five months, the airport has already been thoroughly prepared for a safe flight.
The government had decided to start international flights on the condition of regular flights from the country where the corona can be easily tested and charter flights from other countries. International flights can take place without rising passenger numbers by 500 a day. The airport has implemented health protocols for safe flight operations in coordination with the Ministry of Health and Population, which meets the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.
Airport General Manager Devendra KC has assured that appropriate arrangements have been made in the coordination of the Ministry of Health and Population to achieve passenger safety while conducting the airport in compliance with WHO and ICAO requirements.
He said that the airport has made all possible preparations for a safe flight from staff management to passenger safety.
12,000 to 15,000 passengers used to fly to and from this airport in normal circumstances. Counting flight numbers used to make 70 to 90 a day for international airlines. There have been more than 300 domestic flights, equally. At present, there will be only two to three regular international flights daily. The airport will use the necessary manpower and equipment as it will also run chartered flights.
With the continuation of international flights, airports and airline providers have been preparing for a safe flight from the Covid-19 infection, including health protocols. Keeping in view the health safety of the passengers, the airport management has provided PPE, masks, and sanitizers to the employees of the airport based on the required health standards.
A sanitizer booth is set up outside the arrival hall before the passengers disembark from the aircraft and enter the International Terminal building. Passengers should have in line with physical distance and enter the arrival hall after being sanitized.
Passengers should make them visit the health desk in the middle of the immigration process. The airport has made arrangements to maintain distance at every place where passengers come and go and use sanitizer. Sanitation has been provided in the toilets and other places following the procedure of health desk from immigration.
The airport management has provided necessary health care equipment to all the manpower who will have direct contact with the passengers. The international airport is preparing to operate with new state-of-the-art infrastructure for a safe flight from the epidemic.
In addition to increasing the capacity of the airport, the appearance of the airport has also changed with the addition of essential structures to standardize the service facilities. The structure of the international airport has been added and the service has been expanded and standardized to give a glimpse of the well-equipped airports of developed countries.
For the last time, Minister for Tourism Yogesh Bhattarai has been continuously observing and giving instructions on the new structure of the airport and flight management preparations. Attractive state-of-the-art infrastructure has added to the beauty of the airport. Now, travelers will be able to use the exit way of the glittering new building.
All the existing structures will be used for the operation of regular international flights starting from 2nd September. Thirty airlines, including three Nepalis, have been operating international flights from the international airport.