Despite 1,283 Nepalis in Australia wishing to return home, our national carrier will return home empty

On 8th June, 2020, Nepal’s wide-bodied aircraft will land in Canberra – on it will be repatriated Australian citizens and Permanent Residents. The flight will be the third successful repatriation effort by the Australian Embassy in Kathmandu – the first flight landed in Brisbane on 2nd April, 2020, the second flight landed in Sydney on 7th May, and the third flight will land in Canberra on 8th June.

During the first flight, Nepalis stranded in Australia understood Nepal was in its early phase of lockdown, during the second flight, they questioned the inability of the government to allow them to fly home, and in the upcoming third flight – they have raised their hands in exasperation.

Following Friday’s decision by the Government of Nepal to make arrangements for stranded Nepalis to return home, the Nepali Embassy in Canberra was swift to respond – it immediately asked citizens who wish to return home urgently to register themselves. 1,283 people registered, and agreed to the government laid conditions of paying for their flight and hotel quarantine costs, amongst others.

The government said it would faciliate 25,000 incoming arrivals in its first phase, and TIA too sprung into action – news reports on Sunday showed the airport was ready to accommodate incoming passengers.

With all the positive reports, Nepalis in Australia became hopeful – may be some would be allowed to return home on the historic flight between the capitals of Nepal and Australia. Their hopes were soon dashed because a few ‘technical issues’ which are yet to be resolved.

While Nepalis in Australia (and the world) await their government to fix its technical issues, it is interesting to note that thousands of foreigners have been repatriated from Nepal during the ongoing lockdown. Initially all repatriation flights were organised by their respective embassies, however recently private companies have started organising chartered flights too.

Just yesterday, Nepal Airlines operated three flights to Hong Kong – and sadly, all of them returned empty.