Fuel shortage forces more than half of Nepal's domestic flights to be cancelled

KATHMANDU, Nepal – Airlines in Nepal have been forced to cancel more than half of their domestic flights because of an ongoing fuel shortage, an official said Monday.

More than 70 per cent of domestic flights were cancelled Sunday and about half were cancelled Monday, said Utsav Raj Kharel, the manager of Kathmandu’s airport.

International flights were operating on a normal schedule because they are required to fill their tanks before flying to Nepal.

Passengers were stranded by the cancelled flights in Kathmandu, the capital, and other cities. About 2,000 passengers a day normally fly in and out of Kathmandu’s airport on domestic routes.

For weeks, members of the Madhesi ethnic community protesting Nepal’s new constitution have blocked the southern border with India, preventing fuel and other essential items from entering the country.

India, which has close cultural ties with the Madhesis, has also restricted fuel supplies to Nepal, which relies on its giant neighbour for most of its fuel.