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Nepal’s air safety issue enters European Commission’s Nov meet

  • Aviation safety committee meeting
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 6, 2017-The Aviation Safety Committee meeting of the European Commission (EC) will discuss Nepal’s aviation safety issue on November 13-15 in Brussels, Belgium, to assess the progress made by the country’s carriers and civil aviation authority. 

Rajan Pokhrel, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan), said that the EC had informed them that Nepal’s agenda has entered at the safety committee meeting. However, none of the officials from the airlines and Caan have been invited to attend the meeting. The meeting will reassess whether Nepal be lifted from the air safety list. 

In December 2013, the EC imposed a blanket ban on all airlines from Nepal from flying into the 28-nation bloc. The EC has asked European operators and travel agents to inform European travellers who will have a right to reimbursement if they booked a seat on a Nepali carrier as part of a journey to Nepal and decide not to use it. 

Some officials at the Caan, however, said that the EC had been raising questions over Nepal’s institutional reform and stability of the country’s aviation regulator. The concerns follow amid ongoing rift between Caan and the Civil Aviation Ministry. 

As Caan’s chief has been routinely sacked by the Civil Aviation ministers at the behest of some private airline operators, it has been affecting the stability of the institution and undermining the aviation sector reforms. “The over politicking of the regulatory body in Nepal has been worrisome to many, including the EC,” said the officials. 

In February, the then foreign minister Prakash Sharan Mahat had requested EC President Jean-Claude Juncker during their meeting in Brussels to remove Nepali airlines from the safety list stating that Nepal had made significant progress.

 

President Juncker said they would look into the matter positively after studying the facts provided by the government of Nepal.

Subsequently, on August 3, the Caan had sent its report on the improvements carried out in the aviation sector to the EC to urge it to lift the ban on Nepali airlines. The EC has pointed out deficiencies in three areas-lapses in the revalidation of the air operators’ certificate, training and licensing and Caan’s institutional capacity.

On July 21, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao) removed the significant safety concerns (SSC) tag it had put on Nepal four years ago after assessing that Nepal’s safety standard had not improved on a par with global standards.

The 2013 audit report, a follow-up to the 2009 audit, had pointed out that Nepal’s score of 55.01 percent in effective implementation (EI) of critical elements of safety oversight system was way below the global average of 60 percent.

The latest audit has given Nepal a score of 66 percent for effective implementation of safety standards. The government moved to get Nepali airlines unbanned following the Icao audit.

Published: 06-11-2017 08:51

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