Shree seeks govt help revive charter deal

- Post Report, KATHMANDU
Shree seeks govt help revive charter deal

Jan 13, 2015-

Shree Airlines has appealed to the government to persuade the UN to rethink after it scrapped its helicopter charter contract due to the scrutiny conducted against Nepali carriers by the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao).

The UN terminated the charter agreement with the helicopter operator in June 2014, immediately after the global aviation watchdog put Nepal on the list of nations having a significant safety concern (SSC).  

The UN had qualified Shree Airlines for a long-term vendor list or charter flights in support of peacekeeping operations. It had been operating charters in different African countries since 2008.

Meanwhile, Shree Airlines Chairman Banwari Lal Mittal said that they had written to the Foreign Ministry to negotiate the issue through diplomatic

channels as they were genuinely eligible to carry on services and had abided by all international norms and safety standards.

The carrier has a fleet of six 24-seater Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters. Four of them were left behind in Uganda after the contract agreement was cancelled. Mittal explained that the choppers had been abandoned in the African country as it was not financially viable to bring them back to Nepal. At the same time, the airline has run up a hefty amount in parking fees there.

Mittal said that as Shree Airlines possessed a valid air operators’ certificate, being put on Icao’s SCC list was not a valid reason to end the charter deal.

“The UN did not note any lapses regarding our services during the entire year of operations,” he said. The company has not asked for any extra benefits from the UN, only that the contract be continued as agreed, he added.

Icao monitors Nepal’s aviation safety oversight capabilities through the Icao Coordinated Validation Missions (ICVM).

A mission had arrived in Nepal in July last year to validate the corrective measures taken by Nepal to address deficiencies pointed out by the global aviation watchdog in 2009. The mission carried out an on-site audit from July 10-16, 2013.  

Dissatisfied with Nepal’s progress, Icao had placed the SSC tag on Nepal’s aviation sector in its final audit report in August last year. It has grave concerns about Nepal’s air safety, and has placed it among the 12 worst performing nations.

On Dec 5, 2013, even before Icao’s audit report was released, the European Commission (EC) had imposed a blanket ban on all airlines from Nepal from flying into the 28-nation bloc terming them unsafe.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) will be hiring experts from Icao in a move aimed at removing Nepal from the SSC list. Caan Director General Ratish Chandra Lal Suman had said that he was hopeful that Nepal would be removed from the SCC and the EC’s blacklist in November after the completion of the safety project.

Published: 13-01-2015 09:46

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