Kathmandu, June 4
Though the government had earlier planned to start evacuating Nepalis stranded abroad tomorrow, the actual repatriation process will begin only from June 10, as per the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. However, the government has opened doors for foreign countries to repatriate stranded Nepalis from tomorrow itself as two flights of Air Force from Myanmar and a flight of Air Arabia from United Arab Emirates are bringing stranded Nepalis from those destinations tomorrow.
Though the number of Nepalis on board these flights have not been disclosed, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal confirmed that two Air Force flights from Myanmar will land at Tribhuvan International Airport at 9:50am and 10:35am, while the Air Arabia flight will land at noon.
However, the government will start rescuing Nepalis stranded abroad only from June 10 as different issues regarding holding centres, immigration and flight schedules are yet to be finalised, said Suresh Acharya, joint secretary at MoCTCA.
“We have to complete some groundwork before we can start bringing in stranded Nepalis.
We have primarily agreed to start flights to different destinations from June 10, but it is yet to be officially decided,” said Acharya.
According to him, the government will use eight aircraft of Nepal Airlines Corporation and Himalaya Airlines from June 10 on one-aircraft-one-destination basis.
“The plan is to first make one flight to almost a dozen major destinations in the initial days, which will be completed by June 13. Once we conduct one flight to each major destination, we will re-conduct flights to these destinations on necessity and priority basis,” said Acharya.
Nepal Airlines Corporation officials said initiating flights to rescue stranded Nepalis abroad was unlikely for at least another week, though flight schedules to different countries are under discussion in line with the decision and direction of the government.
Earlier, the government had unveiled its plan to evacuate 2,500 to 3,000 stranded Nepalis per day. The evacuation process will be carried out giving top priority to those who have been granted amnesty, whose visas have expired, who have been staying in repatriation centres, who have already received permission to return home, who have lost relatives in Nepal or need to return for attending last rites and other such functions in memory of the departed and who have lost their jobs.
The government has set a target of rescuing around 40,000 Nepalis stranded abroad in the first phase.
A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 5, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.