Caan expects EC to lift ban on Nepali carriers

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jan 24, 2018-

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) has satisfied the concerns of the European Commission (EC) with evidence regarding the improvements Nepal has made to address air safety deficiencies during the technical committee meeting held in Brussels, Belgium last Friday, the authority said.

The civil aviation regulator expects a quick lifting of the order barring Nepali airlines from flying in the skies of major European countries, a move which should cheer domestic airlines planning to expand their wings to the Continent.  

“We are very well prepared. We made a detailed presentation to them at the meeting that lasted three hours. They are satisfied,” said Rajan Pokhrel, deputy director general of Caan who was among the six-member delegation.

“The EC will send the meeting’s outcome report to Caan by February. After our comments, the EC will send a technical team to Nepal to assess the status of Nepali airlines,” Pokhrel said. 

The visiting team will prepare a field report, and it will be tabled at the EC’s aviation safety committee in April. EC may remove Nepal from its ‘air safety list’ if the carriers are found to be up to the mark in terms of air safety. 

In December 2013, the EC had issued a ban against Nepali airlines preventing them from expanding to EU cities after finding regulatory oversight to be inadequate. The airline industry fears that continuation of the ban will hurt Nepal’s airlines, as they plan to extend their network to Europe. As long as the restriction is in place, the state-owned carrier Nepal Airlines and private carrier Himalaya Airlines will not be able to fly to Europe and other developed countries. Nepal Airlines has announced resuming its London service with Airbus A330 wide body jets which are expected to join its fleet by mid-2018. 

The EC’s prime concern was with Nepal’s air safety management due to frequent air crashes in the country. “We informed the meeting that Nepal was in the process of implementing and maintaining a State Safety Programme (SSP) in compliance with the relevant International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) standards and recommended practices in order to achieve an acceptable level of safety,” said Pokhrel. 

Likewise, the progress achieved in splitting Caan into two entities—service provider and regulator—was also discussed during the conference. The Nepali delegation informed the meeting that the law regarding separation of Caan was at the final stage of seeking Cabinet approval. 

Last July, Icao had removed the significant safety concerns (SSC) tag it had put on Nepal four years ago. Caan officials are optimistic that the EC will follow suit.

The UN supervisory body had put the SSC tag on Nepal’s aviation sector in its audit report in 2013, a follow-up to the 2009 audit, after assessing that Nepal’s safety standard had not improved on par with global standards.

The 2013 audit report had pointed out that Nepal’s score of 55.01 percent in effective implementation of critical elements of safety oversight system was way below the global average of 60 percent. But the latest audit has given Nepal a score of 66 percent for effective implementation of safety standards.

Published: 24-01-2018 09:00

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