Nepal’s aviation entities lost around 37 billion NPR ($313 million) in potential earnings due to flight restrictions imposed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an annual report.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) said in its report for the 2020-21 fiscal year ending in mid-July that it lost around 12 billion NPR in potential earnings, reports Xinhua news agency.

Airlines as a whole lost about 25 billion NPR due to flight restrictions enforced after the first and second waves of the pandemic that hit the country in early 2020 and this April, the report said.

According to the report, the Nepal Airlines lost around 7 billion NPR, and the Himalaya Airlines, a China-Nepal joint venture, lost around 3 billion NPR in potential earnings.

Nepal’s other airlines involved in domestic flights lost around 15 billion NPR.

The South Asian country first suspended international flights on March 22 last year and later a lockdown imposed from March 24 to July 21 halted domestic flights as well.

Domestic and international flights resumed on September 1 last year, but the ban was reinstated after the coronavirus battered the country again in early April this year.

The government suspended regular domestic flights from May 3 and international flights from May 6, and allowed limited international and domestic flights from June 1 and July 1, respectively, after the pandemic eased to some extent.

Raj Kumar Chhetri, CAAN’s spokesman, told Xinhua on Monday that the suspension of domestic and international flights have resulted in heavy losses to both the regulator and the airlines.

“For example, our monthly income has come down to 200 million NPR to 300 million NPR in recent days from 800 million NPR to 900 million NPR in normal times before the pandemic first hit the country,” said Chhetri.

“Our monthly income plunged to as low as 40 million NPR a month when the lockdown was strictly enforced,” he added.

The CAAN has raised various fees from the airlines, including airport development fee.

“In recent days, only 12 to 18 international flights are taking off daily from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu,” said Chhetri.

“In normal times, there are over 40 international flights in a day in July and August.”

In Nepal, domestic flights are faring better than the international ones these days.

“Recently 102 flights take off in a day, a record high since the second wave of pandemic hit,” said Chhetri.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, Dim Prasad Poudel, managing director of the Nepal Airlines, said that for the last one and a half years, the national flag carrier was failing to repay massive loans it received to procure aircraft for international flights due to pandemic-induced losses.

Nepal on Monday reported 1,902 new Covid-19 cases and 16 deaths, taking the total infections to 761,124 and the fatality toll to 10,730.



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