The Government of Nepal has announced that it will allow scheduled international flights from a number of countries effective September 1, although passengers will still be subject to strict testing and quarantine requirements.

Scheduled flights will be permitted only from countries where COVID-19 tests are readily available, namely Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Australia, the United States, Canada, and the European Union. Other Gulf countries, which have large Nepalese diasporas, have not been included on the list, meaning only repatriation charters will continue to be allowed.

Only Nepalese citizens and residents, as well as a limited pool of foreigners (such as diplomats), will be allowed to fly to Nepal on the scheduled flights. Notably, tourists will not be allowed in as yet.

Airlines flying passengers to Nepal will have to add the cost of a seven-day stay in a hotel in Kathmandu to the airfare. Passengers will have to both provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to departure and quarantine at the hotel for a week after arrival, with airlines obliged to pay for the hotel for their passengers. Following the seven-day quarantine at a hotel, passengers will then be subject to a further 14-day home quarantine.

The government also said that airlines will be financially liable if their passengers fail to report for the hotel quarantine upon arrival.

There are no imminent plans to restart domestic scheduled flights in Nepal.

However, as the government is thinking about its strategy for the aviation market going forward, Aviation Nepal has reported that the "dollar fares" for foreigners, denominated in US dollars and much higher than fares for Nepalese citizens, are likely to be scrapped. Instead, foreigners would be charged the highest fares currently set for Nepalese. The decision could also bring about a broader review of the fare policy, with a possible introduction of more diversified fares as well as changes to fare caps.

Currently, fares for the Nepalese citizens from Kathmandu are capped at NPR11,345 Nepalese rupees (USD95) on the longest domestic flight to Dhangarhi, and at NPR10,090 (USD84) on most routes to airports in the Himalayas.

Buddha Air (U4, Kathmandu) managing director Birendra Basnet told the Nepali Times that the scrapping of "dollar fares" would lead to an increase in domestic fare caps.

"The dollar fares allow us to subsidise fares for Nepali passengers. If we scrap the two-tier fares, a Nepali passenger paying NPR3,000 for a ticket will have to pay NPR5,000. So fares for Nepalis will go up," Basnet said.