KATHMANDU, AUGUST 30

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) has decided to begin the procedure of signing Air Services Agreement (ASA) with three more countries.

A meeting held today at MoCTCA has decided to sign ASA with Indonesia, Finland and Russia.

So far Nepal has already signed ASA with a total of 40 countries. Along with the new agreements there will be 43 countries where Nepali airline companies will be allowed to operate flights.

However, flights are being operated to a very few destinations including India, Dubai, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Qatar and Japan and at present all the regular flights have been halted due to flight restrictions.

Besides, the meeting has also directed the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) to monitor regular as well as repatriation flights.

Recently, the government had announced to resume international flights from September 2. However, the ministry has been receiving complaints regarding the expensive airfares. Moreover, as the government has made it mandatory for passengers to get a PCR test done the airline companies are forcing passengers to test the PCR in hospitals selected by the airline companies themselves.

Thus, MoCTCA has directed CAAN to ensure convenient and affordable flights for passengers returning home.

CAAN has also been directed to inspect whether the airline companies are following healthy safety protocols properly or not.

Meanwhile, the ministry has also formed a committee led by its Deputy Secretary Ram Krishna Lamichhane to monitor and ease the travel process for passengers while returning to the country. The committee includes Surendra Thapa, director of Department of Tourism, Hirajan Kafle from CAAN and Sunil Sharma, manager of Nepal Tourism Board.

The meeting has also prepared a working directive to inspect airfare, monitor hotel quarantines, cooperate with stakeholders for flight operations and properly manage quarantine facilities as well as to address complaints related to passengers while returning home.

Besides, the MoCTCA has decided to prepare a framework and criteria to operate expeditions and rescue activities after the situation normalises.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on August 31, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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