Attempts to return stranded Nepalis in Australia aboard the Nepal Airlines aircraft flying to Australia has failed.
According to Hon. Mahesh Raj Dahal, Nepalese Ambassador to Australia, time was a severe constraint which affected the project. “These kind of things take at least a week, however we did not have the same amount of time. We have to register the number of stranded Nepalese, seek permission from the Nepali government, and coordinate with Nepal Airlines – there wasn’t enough time to complete all formalities” he said to MNTV, a community based media organisation operating from Australia.
The Nepalese Embassy was negotiating a deal with the Foreign Ministry of Nepal, however a response is yet to arrive, and therefore unable to take any decision forward. It is important to note that Nepal is amidst a national lockdown, and all international flights have been canceled until 15th April, 2020.
The Embassy had thought of the possibility of sending Nepalis home after the Australian Embassy was able to negotiate a deal with Nepal Airlines to transport its stranded citizens home. The plane was earlier supposed to arrive in Sydney, however the destination has since been changed to Brisbane. The aircraft will depart from Tribhuvan International Airport on Wednesday (1st April, 2020). Costs were established at USD 1800 for economy seating and USD 2300 for business class.
As per a tweet by Australian Ambassador to Nepal, Hon. Peter Budd on 30th March, 2020, bookings for the flight were almost full.
Bookings are proceeding (slowly) for the Nepal Airlines flight that will get #strandedAustralians home. 4 seats are left for the flight. Then we will start wait-listings. pic.twitter.com/PETL9BrVGy
— Pete Budd (@AusAmbNP) March 30, 2020
Meanwhile, the flight will return empty from Brisbane to Kathmandu, as per reports.