Kathmandu, Nepal: After a span of over two months, the domestic terminal building of Kathmandu airport in Nepal on Thursday bustled with activity again as Nepal resumed domestic flights, with 50 per cent seating capacity.
Regular domestic flights were suspended from May 3, days after prohibitory order was imposed in Kathmandu Valley due to the spread of COVID-19. As per the decision of Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation resumed regular domestic flights from Thursday, air services to various destinations in the country.
"Resumption of flight has brought more relief for us. Lockdown had brought life to stand still for many people, now the flights are back on schedule it has eased our transport mode. As the long route vehicles are yet to hit the road, this has solved the question about how to reach the destination," Aarti Devi Poudel, a passenger who arrived at airport for her flights told ANI.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the regulatory body, a total of 64 domestic flights would be operating on daily basis. The authority has allowed 15 daily flights to Yeti Airlines, 31 to Buddha Air, seven to Shree Air, three to Saurya Air, two to Nepal Airlines, two to Tara Air, two to Summit Air and two to Sita Air.
The government has opened the way for domestic flights with the condition to not exceed 50 per cent of the total flights. The current flight is targeted to the trunk routes. During normal days, about 300 flights use to take off and land at TIA on daily basis. But in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the authority has stated that only 64 daily flights will be allowed for now and follow safety measures before and after the flight.
"We were advised to use the sanitizer throughout the flight, they (airlines) also gave us face-shield and social distancing protocol of at least one meter adhered until we landed here at Kathmandu," said Januka Shrestha, who arrived back at Kathmandu from Nepalgunjafter two months.
Air service providers have made it compulsory for all the passengers to fill up a declaration form on their health history before the airline will issue a boarding pass, and airlines must inform every passenger as early as possible through a text message if there is a flight delay to prevent crowd at the airport.
Also, the airlines have been providing masks and face shields to all passengers on each flight to ensure enhanced cleaning of aircraft with a focus on high contact areas like seats and seatbelts, and screen the temperatures of passengers twice before boarding.
Passengers must get to the airport one and a half hours before their flights.
Tribhuvan International Airport statistics show that domestic carriers lost 1.73 million passengers last year, which translates into a loss of more than Rs 5 billion in passenger revenue, excluding losses in cargo revenue.
In 2020, domestic passenger traffic at Kathmandu's airport fell to its lowest level since 2009. But airline officials said that domestic carriers had recovered close to 90 per cent of pre-covid passenger numbers. According to the statistics, domestic airlines carried 1.45 million passengers in 2020, a 54.28 per cent plunge from the 2019 figure. (ANI)