‘Bill to split civil aviation body to go to Parliament’

  • Tourism Ministry plans to introduce the Civil Aviation bill at the winter session of Parliament

Dec 9, 2018-

The Tourism Ministry has claimed that a bill to split the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) into two entities—a regulatory body and service provider—will be introduced in the upcoming winter session of Parliament, as pressure is mounting on the government to lift Nepal from the “air safety list” of the European Commission.

The winter session of Parliament is expected to begin by the end of December. The European Commission had indicated that it was not happy with the Nepal government’s lack of progress on making a law to split the CAAN into a regulatory body and service provider.

As a result, the commission has continued its ban on Nepali airlines for five consecutive years through an updated “EU air safety list” published on November 28. The government has been working on the new law for the last nine years.

Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari briefed the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee last week that the Law Ministry has given its “in principle” approval to the draft of the Integrated Civil Aviation Bill. “Now, we are preparing to table the bill at the Cabinet soon,” he told the lawmakers.   

“After getting the Cabinet’s nod, it will be introduced in the upcoming winter session of Parliament.” The impact of the air safety list has been hurting Nepali carriers who plan to extend their network to Europe and other countries.

Adhikari told lawmakers that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) have already removed Nepal from its significant safety concerns list.

In July 2017, ICAO removed Nepal from its bad book after four years. The 2017 audit gave Nepal a score of 66 percent for effective implementation of safety 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.

“As the global aviation watchdog has already cleared Nepal from its significant safety list, it’s not rational for the European Commission to continue its ban on Nepali airlines,” he said, adding that Nepal had sent all the documents to satisfy the concerns of the commission with evidence regarding the improvements Nepal had made to address air safety deficiencies.

Lawmaker Hridayesh Tripathi told the meeting that the Tourism Ministry does not seems serious to split the CAAN into two entities. “Without lifting the ban, Nepali airlines will not be able to expand their wings in new destinations.”

On December 5, 2013, the EC had imposed a blanket ban on all airlines from Nepal from flying into the 28-nation bloc.

Last January, CAAN officials made a detailed presentation regarding the improvements Nepal had made to address air safety deficiencies during the technical committee meeting of the commission held in Brussels, Belgium.

Following which, the commission had agreed to send a technical team to Nepal in September to evaluate the status of Nepali airlines and their improvement towards safety.

The group was expected to prepare a field report and submit it to its technical committee meeting in November to decide whether Nepal should be removed from the air safety list.

However, concerned by slow progress on enacting the law to split the CAAN, the commission did not follow up on Nepal’s audit, according to CAAN officials.

Published: 09-12-2018 07:58

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