Kathmandu: After a hiatus of almost six months, domestic airlines have resumed mountain flights as Covid-19 pandemic is “slowly subsiding” in Nepal.
With the government already resuming on-arrival visas to foreign nationals, two domestic airlines, Yeti Airlines and Buddha Air, have resumed mountain flights in a bid to revive sightseeing activities, hit hard by the pandemic.
In Nepal, Yeti Air and Buddha Air are the only two airlines operating mountain flights. These airlines have launched a “Buy one ticket, get one free” offer for this season. However, the offer is only applicable for domestic tourists, said both the airlines.
Last week, the government decided to resume on-arrival visa services, and also scrapped the mandatory requirement for foreigners to stay in quarantine for 14 days if they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Likewise, unvaccinated tourists have to present a RT-PCR negative report 72 hours before their arrival to Nepal.
“The flow of domestic tourists is slowly picking up,” said Sudarshan Bartaula, spokesperson for Yeti Airlines. “The bookings for mountain flights are also encouraging. The tourism sector is slowly reviving.”
According to Yeti Airlines, the fare for mountain flights has been set at Rs 8,848 for domestic and Indian tourists and USD 192 for tourists from other countries. Likewise, domestic and Indian tourists will get a window and non-window seat at Rs 9,848.
The airlines started mountain flights on Sunday, September 27, and 44 passengers enjoyed sightseeing the same day. Currently, the airlines have scheduled a single mountain flight once a week for Sunday.
“If demands increase further, we have planned to increase the number of flights to two-three per week,” said Bartaula, adding the fare for residential foreigners has been set at Rs 13,275.
“The flow of domestic tourists is slowly picking up,” said Sudarshan Bartaula, Spokesperson for Yeti Airlines. “The bookings for mountain flights are also encouraging. The tourism sector is slowly reviving.”
Likewise, Buddha Air is flying once a week on Saturdays.
“The bookings are encouraging. Last Saturday, 42 foreigners flew with us,” said Dipendra Kumar Karna, communications manager at the Buddha Air.
Buddha Air has set a fare of Rs 9,999 for domestic and Indian tourists, while foreigners are charged USD 192 per trip. Under the scheme, domestic and Indian tourists get a window and a non-window seat for Rs 9,999. The scheme is not applicable to foreign tourists.
According to the airlines, it is receiving 8-10 bookings for mountain flights.
According to both airlines, tourists fly for almost an hour and enjoy mountain views on mountain flights.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, domestic airlines used to make 7-10 mountain flights in the autumn season.