News reports about suspension of international flights are false

South Asia Check / May 11, 2022

By Pravin Bhatta/South Asia Check

On May 6, 2022, several online news outlets published reports that said international flights to and from Nepal will be suspended for three days from the midnight of May 10 for the May 13 local elections.  Hamro Patro, a news aggregator mobile application, also shared the Nepali language news on its platform.  Ekagaj and Kalakarmi published the news on May 6, disseminated through Hamro Patro. The news reports claimed that the Election Commission of Nepal had decided to write to the government to suspend international flights for three days starting from the midnight of May 10. Ekagaj, however, corrected their report the same day.

Drishti News also reported the same news on May 6 with the headline: “International Flights to be suspended for three days.” The report claimed that the Election Commission had decided to write to the government to enforce a three-day suspension of international flights starting from the midnight of May 10 for local elections.

The news drew widespread public attention with people expressing their dissatisfaction with the Election Commission.

On May 6, Prateek Pradhan, the Editor of Baahrakhari, expressing outrage over the news reports, tweeted “Did you hear that? They are suspending international flights for three days for local elections. It’s a madhouse.”

South Asia Check has fact-checked the claims.

In a news article published on May 6, Kantipur newspaper reported that international airport will not be closed during the local elections. The report quoted Prem Nath Thakur, the general manager of the Tribhuvan International Airport as saying: “Both domestic and international airports will not be closed during the elections.”

Pradeep Adhikari, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, also told Kantipur that no decision had been taken to close the airport.

The Election Commission on May 5 has issued  guidelines regarding vehicular movement on Election Day (May 13) . Clause 4 of the guidelines issued  on May 5 requires that the Chief District Officer of Kathmandu shall facilitate the transportation of international passengers from and to the international airport on the basis of their visa, flight ticket and passport.

It becomes clear from the commission’s guidelines that the international flights will not be affected on Election Day.

Hence, the claim that Nepal would suspend international flights during local elections is false. Meanwhile, domestic flights have been suspended on Election Day, according to the Airlines Operators Association of Nepal. A notice issued by the body on May 8 reads: “All the regular domestic flights operated by members of association will be suspended on Election Day except those approved by government, or for humanitarian aid and rescue.”

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