Nepal has extended its ban on most international flights until midnight on May 31, 2021, to prevent the spread of new COVID-19 variants to the country, according to an urgent notice issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).

Only two flights a week are currently permitted between the Nepalese capital Kathmandu and Delhi Int'l, India, by each of Nepal Airlines (RA, Kathmandu) and Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) operated in terms of a quarantine-free air travel bubble agreement between the two countries, the regulator said. It advised airlines not to open passenger bookings to/from Nepal until further notice.

This followed after all scheduled international flights to/from Nepal were suspended on May 6 until May 14, excepting the above-mentioned air bubble flights by the two national carriers.

In terms of the same ruling, all domestic scheduled passenger flights remain suspended until midnight on May 14. Domestic airlines affected include Buddha Air, Shree Airlines, Yeti Airlines, Simrik Airlines, and Summit Air (Nepal), ch-aviation data reveals.

International cargo and medical rescue flights have been permitted under special authorisation from CAAN. Himalaya Airlines, Nepal Airlines, Air Arabia (UAE), Sichuan Airlines and Air China have been authorised to conduct cargo flights to Nepal, while a charter flight by Qatar Executive (QQE, Doha Int'l) and a medical evacuation by Tyrol Air Ambulance (TYW, Innsbruck) have also been permitted, according to regulatory notices.

The ch-aviation schedules module shows that at least 16 airlines and international flights are affected by the ban, including, amongst others, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi from Abu Dhabi Int'l; Air China from Chengdu Shuangliu; Himalaya Airlines flights to Chongqing, Dammam, Dhaka, and Doha Hamad Int'l; SriLankan Airlines from Colombo Int'l; Vistara from Delhi, Biman Bangladesh Airlines from Dhaka; Nepal Airlines' and Qatar Airways' flights to/from Doha; China Southern Airlines from Guangzhou; Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong Int'l; Malindo Air from Kuala Lumpur Int'l; Jazeera Airways from Kuwait; SalamAir from Muscat; and Bhutan Airlines from Kathmandu, as well as Korean Air from Seoul Incheon; and SilkAir from Singapore Changi.