Govt mulls handing over mgmt of TIA, NAC to foreign firms


Mar 21, 2015-

The government is considering handing over the management of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) to foreign companies. Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat revealed the plan at a programme here on Friday.

According to Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan), a consortium of four Japanese companies led by engineering giant Mitsubishi Corp has submitted a proposal expressing interest to take over the management of the country’s sole international airport.

Caan officials said discussions were taking place on the proposal submitted five months ago.

“As the development of the proposed second international airport in Nijgadh, Bara, would take around 10 years, we need to develop the TIA with state-of-the-art infrastructure and efficient management,” Mahat said, speaking at the 39th annual general meeting of Pacific Asia Travel Association’s (PATA) Nepal Chapter.

“It is the right time. With the ongoing upgradation of the TIA, its management should also be given to a foreign company,” he said, adding Nepal was spending too much time on political issues and that the country needed to move fast to improve its economic status.

Constituent Assembly member Uday Shamsher Rana said the airport was major bottleneck to the growth of Nepal’s tourism. “As TIA is not up to the mark, the only alternative to manage it efficiently is by handing its management over to a foreign company,” he said.

The Finance Ministry said the government was also considering inducting a foreign strategic partner at NAC to improve its efficiency.  

Recently, Lufthansa Consulting and German Aviation Capital had submitted two separate proposals to the Tourism Ministry, expressing interests in providing consultancy and management services to improve performance and operational efficiency of NAC.

In its opinion submitted to the ministry, the national flag carrier has said the government should be clear about the modality to be adopted when inducting foreign partners.

As the German proposals are not for strategic partnership, but are about management contract, or consultancy services, the corporation has asked the government to be clear on the modality first.

Tourism entrepreneur Basanta Raj Mishra said the recent accident of Turkish Airlines that forced the country’s sole international airport to close down for four days “has raised questions on our capability to ensure safety of tourists”.

“We definitely need to adopt immediate alternative measures, otherwise it could hurt the tourism industry,” Mishra said. “The tourism industry might collapse at a time when investors are pouring huge money in it.”

Subhash Goyal, president of Indian Association of Tour Operators, said Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, is Nepal’s one of the greatest assets, but the country has so far failed to capitalise on it.

Stating that Hajj is a huge earner for Saudi Arabia after oil, he said: “Why can’t Nepal do the same as it has the birthplaces of Buddha and Hindu goddess Sita, and the site where she was married to Rama.”

Published: 22-03-2015 08:19

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