KATHMANDU, Jan 1: Nepal’s aviation industry has incurred a loss of more than Rs. 17.6 billion due to COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the biggest impact of the COVID-19 has been on the national flag carrier, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC).
NAC has lost about Rs. 5 billion in revenue due to its inability to use the aircraft during the pandemic. Another international flight company, Himalaya Airlines, has lost Rs. 2 billion in revenue.
Domestic airlines, including helicopter operators, had incurred a loss of Rs. 10.62 billion during the period.
Although Nepal Airlines and Himalaya Airlines have made some income through chartered flights, they are losing a lot due to not being able to operate regular flights, said Rajan Pokhrel, Director General of CAAN, at the 22nd anniversary of CAAN.
CAAN’s income declined by Rs. 5.69 billion due to COVID-19 during March–November which is 80 per cent lower than the revenue collected in same period last year.
Under the international sector, air passengers has dropped to 1,039,322 in 2020 compared to 4,138,482 in 2019. Similarly, under the domestic sector, air passengers dropped to 1,030,296 in 2020 while 3,188,479 air passengers travelled in 2019.
After about six months of lockdown and prohibitory order, Nepal resumed its international and domestic flights from September 2020 with certain restrictions and following strict health and safety measures.
Although regular flights have been running since September, the income of helicopter operators has not returned to normal after drastic reduction in the arrival of tourists, he said.
“Due to the pandemic, till November, 2020, we have lost about 64.73 per cent of passengers in domestic sector and about 72 per cent of passengers in international sector compared to that in year 2019,” he said.
“Against the backdrop of the pandemic, our priority today is to resume aviation activities by ensuring safety of travelling public and personnel involved in aviation operations,” Pokhrel said.
Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yadav Prasad Koirala said that collective efforts among various stakeholders were needed for the sustainable development of this sector.
“There should be no debate between Nepal Airlines and CAAN on the issue of ground handling. Both are government institutions. So, the government will decide on the issue based on the priority and importance,” he said.