Embassies can conduct ‘rescue’ flights through foreign airlines

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KATHMANDU, JUNE 14

The government has decided to operate rescue flights by allowing foreign airlines to repatriate Nepalis from abroad. The COV- ID-19 Crisis Management Operations Centre has decided that Nepali embassies and missions in any country can arrange chartered flights for rescue by negotiating with airlines of the respective countries.

As per the earlier decision of CCMC, only Nepal Airlines Corporation and Himalaya Airlines were allowed to operate chartered flights for the rescue of migrant workers.

The government has opened the way for embassies to conduct repatriation flights after the Nepali embassy in Oman decided to rescue workers through Salaam Air at half the rate set by the government. The new decision comes as the government is being criticised for fixing high fares on chartered flights of Nepali airlines. Nepali embassies abroad had also mentioned that workers would be able to come to Nepal at a cheaper rate when regular flights are opened.

Now, government has made a new arrangement by correcting earlier system to facilitate Nepali citizens who want to come home. As per CCMC, a provision has been made whereby Nepali embassies and missions can charter airlines of the country of origin to rescue Nepalis but cost of repatriation has to be first verified by CCMC unless workers are being sent for free by their companies or destination countries.

As per the decision, the missions will have to first send the proposed air fare for each person and passenger list to CCMC through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The CCMC will then forward the list with recommendations to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, which will then look into the recommendations and the airfare that has been quoted.

Following this the MoCTCA will send flight permit to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.

The planes will be able to come to Nepal after CAAN gives the flight permission.

An arrangement has also been made whereby the aircraft bringing Nepalis to the country can be chartered on its return.

Similarly, when an aircraft is carrying passengers to other countries then it can bring back Nepalis who are in the priority list. Earlier, when there was no such arrangement, a plane had to return from Australia with only 11 passengers on board.

Meanwhile, only those people who have medical documents to certify that they are not infected with the coronavirus will be allowed to board the rescue flights. However, if conducting a medical test for COV- ID-19 infection is not possible, arrangements can be made to bring the passengers to Nepal and keep them in quarantine.

The government has also decided to allow staff of foreign diplomatic missions in Nepal, heads of international organisations including United Nations, staff and close family members to move around in the country in accordance with protocol of Ministry of Health and Population based on institutional recommendations.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 15, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.


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