The Airline Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN) has warned of resorting to protest if the government does not resume flights even on September 1.

After the national lockdown came to an official end, Nepal government had announced that domestic and international flights would resume services from August 17. However, the Cabinet meeting on Monday decided to postpone the resumption of flight services to September 1 citing increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

AOAN has opposed the government’s latest decision arguing that most of the countries have already resumed domestic flight operations.

“Most of the COVID-19-affected countries have resumed at least domestic flights by adopting health safety protocols. Following the direction of Nepal government, Nepali airline operators were also prepared to resume flights from August 17 by following the protocols prescribed by World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO),” said Rameshwor Thapa, president of AOAN.

However, the decision of postponing flight resumption will affect both the industry and passengers, especially the differently-abled, pregnant women and others needing emergency care, he added. “Moreover, the airline companies have been facing huge losses due to flight suspension, which in turn has also affected a large number of people working in the aviation sector,” said Thapa.

AOAN has further claimed that there was less chance of COVID-19 transmission during air travel and promoting air travel will also aid the government in testing or tracing travellers.

“If the flight suspension keeps getting prolonged, airlines companies may go belly up. Thus, if the government postpones flight resumption date of September 1, airline operators will be forced to take to the streets,” Thapa added.