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The Nepalese civil aviation body on Sunday authorized the national airlines of Nepal and India to increase the number of weekly flights on the Kathmandu-Delhi route under the air bubbles deal of two currently at six.

With an increase in demand for tickets as there has been an exponential increase in the number of outbound passengers from Kathmandu, traveling mainly for medical treatment, passengers rushed to get tickets on the busiest and most popular route. lucrative for airlines.

Raj Kumar Chettri, spokesman for the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority, told the Post that Nepal Airlines and Air India have been allowed to operate three flights a week each and will come into effect from Monday.

While, according to the approved schedule, Air India will operate flights to the area on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays, Nepal Airlines, which operates services every Wednesday, has yet to obtain slot approval from the authority of Indian civil aviation regulations.

Currently, services remain capped due to an air bubble agreement between Nepal and India that allows weekly flight in both directions.

In December last year, Nepal and India entered into an air bubble deal, a dedicated flight service between the two countries following strict health and safety protocols established by the authorities in the respective countries.

“The two carriers – Nepal Airlines and Air India – asked to increase their frequencies on Sunday after the government decided to increase frequencies in the area. We have approved their operating licenses accordingly, ”said Chettri.

However, according to Chettri, under the air bubbles agreement, other Indian airlines are still limited to operating on the Kathmandu-New Delhi route. Indian low-cost airline IndiGo and new airline Vistara have also applied to operate in Nepal.

Demand for tickets on the Kathmandu-Delhi route is breaking off the charts, and air fares have skyrocketed due to the limited frequencies.

Travel agencies have reported that the price of a seat on a flight to Delhi has reached 50,000 rupees, nearly six times the normal cost as flights between the two neighbors have not increased despite a massive increase. of travel demand.

Flight frequencies over other international sectors returned to levels close to normal.

On July 5, a council of ministers authorized the resumption of passenger flights to international sectors according to the country’s travel needs and demand.

The government decided to resume flights following complaints about expensive airline tickets in the international sector after a limited number of flights were allowed to some key destinations.

But services to Delhi, the busiest and most lucrative route from Kathmandu, remain capped due to an air bubble agreement between Nepal and India that allows weekly flight in both directions.

Dim Prasad Poudel, managing director of Nepal Airlines, said they will immediately apply for the slot at Delhi airport once they receive the approval letter from the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority.

Shyam Raj Thapaliya, managing director of Osho World Nepal, one of the leading travel agencies in Nepal, said that most of the Kathmandu-based embassies have started issuing visas from New Delhi, travelers must go to the Indian capital to obtain their entry permits. , resulting in a rush for travel.

“Many Nepalese are also going to Delhi for medical treatment,” he said.

According to Osho Travel, seats on Air India are sold out for July 23. The cheapest ticket on the next flight on July 30 costs Rs48,500.

Air India operates the New Delhi-Kathmandu service every Friday. The normal charge for the 1 hour 15 minute jump is Rs 9,000.

Nepal’s national airline, Nepal Airlines, which currently operates reciprocal flights to Delhi, operates services every Wednesday. Flights are also fully booked for July 21 and 28.

The Nepal Airlines tariff on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector is capped at Rs 30,000.

An anonymous airline official said he requested a daily flight to the Kathmandu-Delhi area in mid-March, when the second wave began in India.

With the upsurge in coronavirus cases in neighboring India, Nepal has been caught off guard. On April 29, the government announced a second lockdown. It restricted domestic flights from midnight on May 3 and international flights from midnight on May 6 as the second wave of Covid-19 gripped the country.

While all regular international flights connecting Kathmandu have been stopped, the government has decided to continue the two flights per week on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector.

Passengers traveling between the two countries must follow strict travel protocols.

“The increase in flights will bring relief to passengers who are forced to pay high plane tickets due to limited flights,” said Chettri, from the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority.