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Kathmandu [Nepal], September 21 (ANI): The domestic terminal of the Tribhuwan International Airport on Monday bore the “new normal” look since Monday as domestic flights resumed after a halt of nearly seven months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Floors of the airport terminal–from the entrance–had demarcations to ensure social distancing, a medical point on the way to check-ins which would allow only one person at a time after checking the temperature and then the passengers were asked to sanitise again.
Passengers were asked to fill their details in a form for the further record before they headed for boarding. This was new normal witnessed by passengers who are now able to fly.
“I am extremely happy as I am now able to fly after a long gap. I used to take flights at least once in a month earlier because of my professional associations. With the induction of the lockdown, it was stalled for seven months. There were no flights as all the airports were closed but now the happy days are back as all the means of transport are open,” Ram Sitaula, who was on his way to the terminal to take a flight to Biratnagar from Kathmandu told ANI.
A cabinet meeting earlier this month had decided to let long route public vehicles and domestic flights to operate from the First of Ashwin (mid-September). After a long haul, public vehicles came into operation from Thursday running at 50 per cent occupancy. On the other hand, flights are allowed to run with 100 per cent occupancy.
Authorities have opened flights to major destinations all around Nepal but the number of flights has been contracted to 25 per cent than that of usual. Flights to Lukla, the gateway to Mount Everest also is operation but travellers would require Real Time-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) Negative report which is mandatory.
Closed for half-year, Nepal’s Domestic flight carriers lost about 7 Billion Nepali rupees. Buddha Air, the largest air service provider which used to operate nearly 50 flights on a daily basis, during the lockdown period lost about 3 Billion Nepali Rupees.
A total of nine Airlines and 10 helicopter companies are currently operating in Nepal’s domestic airspace that would have tough days ahead. Domestic air service providers of the Himalayan nation in the year 2019 had ferried of 3.18 million passengers around various destinations.
The number of domestic passengers in the year 2019 had soared by 16 per cent in comparison to 2018 when the number stood at around 2.84 million. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Himalayan nation has expected the number to plunge further up to 80 per cent by the end of 2020.
“Flights operating from Monday are 25 per cent of the normal flights strictly following the health protocol issued. Domestic flight companies are expected to work hard for another one year to get back to normality,” Rajan Pokhrel, Director General of Nepal Civil Aviation Authority confirmed.
Nepal on Monday recorded a total of 1,154 cases with 1,005 cases of recoveries and 16 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said. The COVID-19 tally of the Himalayan nation now stands at 65,276 while the number of total active cases in the country stands at 17,611.
Kathmandu Valley recorded a total of 674 cases further taking the toll to 17,090. Out of the new cases, 538 were confirmed in Kathmandu while Bhaktapur recorded 74 and Lalitpur had 62 new cases of COVID-19 infection.
With the resumption of flights, the contagion is suspected to spread further. (ANI)