Nepal Airlines Corporation’s A330 is making chartered flights to Australia. Nepal Airlines will make a special flight carrying citizens of Australia those who were stuck in Nepal. After the Nepal government announced nation lockdown as an adverse effect of COVID-19 cases.
The Australian authorities on Tuesday cleared Nepal Airlines to fly to Brisbane, Australia to repatriate Australian tourists stuck in Nepal.
As per the plan, the carrier will make its maiden 13-hour-long charter flight to Australia on Wednesday evening.
“We received the operating authorization from the Australian authority today morning. We will take off at 5:30pm from the Kathmandu airport on Wednesday. All internal preparation has been completed,” Captain Deepu Raj Jwarchan, director at the airlines’ operation department, told the Post on Tuesday.
The 274-seater Airbus A330 plane can accommodate 260 passengers. Nepal Airlines will fly with 20 crew members, said Jwarchan.
On Monday, the Tourism Ministry granted permission to conduct charter operations to Australia at the request of the Australian embassy in Nepal.
The national flag carrier has to secure overflying permits from India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia as well.
The carrier had originally planned to land at the Sydney airport but the plan changed after the Australian government refused to issue landing permit citing poor quarantine facility in Sydney, which has reported most infected cases of Covid-19.
“The plane will touchdown in Malaysia for refuelling,” said Suresh Acharya, joint secretary at the ministry who looks after the aviation affairs. “We have communicated with five countries through th Foreign Ministry requesting for overflying permits.”
Australian Ambassador to Nepal Pete Budd posted on his embassy Facebook page that the cost to Kathmandu-Sydney flight would be USD 1,800 per person for economy seating and will include a USD 2,300 option for business class travel.
“On social media, there have been concerns expressed about cost. We appreciate where these expressions of frustration are coming from,” he wrote. “In the event there are future flights, if there are future flights, they are only likely to be more expensive.”
Meanwhile, the United States will also repatriate its citizens from Nepal via a Qatar Airways flight on Tuesday.
According to a Qatar Airways official, the Kathmandu-Doha-Washington DC flight departed on Tuesday afternoon. The flight has been chartered by the US embassy in Nepal for 300 American citizens .
Similarly, the Tourism Ministry has also granted approval for South Korea and China to repatriate their citizens as Nepal has extended the lockdown until April 7 midnight.
On Friday and Saturday, the German and French governments repetritared more than 900 European from Nepal.