Nepal | August 08, 2020

Seven years on, Nepali airlines still barred from flying over EU skies

The ban will also restrict Nepali Airlines including Nepal Airlines Corporation and Himalaya Airlines from conducting repatriation charter flights

Rajan Pokhrel
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KATHMANDU: Stating that the European Aviation Agency found no change in Nepal’s air safety status in the last seven years, the European Commission has decided to continue its ban on Nepali airlines from flying into the 28-nation bloc of the European Union.

The ban will also restrict Nepali Airlines including Nepal Airlines Corporation and Himalaya Airlines from conducting repatriation charter flights to and from the EU countries to rescue stranded people in the times of COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, lack of improvement in safety oversight by the country’s aviation regulator – Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal – has led the EC to continue its ban on all Nepali airlines from flying within the EU.

The European Commission in its recently updated air safety list stated that all Nepali airlines are subject to an operating ban within the European Union as they do not meet international safety standards. A total of 96 airlines including 20 air carriers certified in Nepal are banned from EU skies, the EC stated.

The EC blacklisted Nepal, placing restrictions on Nepali airlines, for the first time in 2013 immediately after the International Civil Aviation Organisation raised significant safety concerns. The ICAO, however, removed Nepal’s aviation from its blacklist in July 2017.

The EU’s major demands were revision of civil aviation policies and reducing helicopter accident rates in the country. Amidst this, the government is also working on splitting CAAN into operational and regulating bodies, which was among the issues raised by the EU to get Nepal off from its air safety list.

“Ninety airlines certified in 16 states (Afghanistan, Angola -with the exception of two airlines, Armenia, Congo-Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Libya, Moldova -with the exception of three airlines, Nepal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone and Sudan) are placed on the EU blacklist,” the agency said, adding, “The list of air carriers certified in Congo (Brazzaville), Democratic Republic of Congo, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Nepal, and Sierra Leone has been reviewed and amended, with new carriers from these countries added, and carriers which do not exist any longer removed.”

However, the stated air carriers could be permitted to exercise traffic rights by using wet-leased aircraft of an air carrier which is not subject to an operating ban, provided that the relevant safety standards are complied with.

In a statement, EC’s Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “The EU Air Safety List should be used as an instrument that helps airlines and countries listed reassess and improve their flying standards. The decision to include the Armenian carriers on the EU Air Safety List has been made based on the unanimous opinion delivered by the Air Safety Committee. The Commission, with the assistance of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, stands ready to cooperate and invest in Armenia to improve its aviation safety.”

“The EU Air Safety List not only helps to maintain high levels of safety in the EU, but also helps affected airlines and countries to improve their levels of safety, in order for them to eventually be taken off the list.”

In addition, the EU Air Safety List has become a major preventive tool, as it motivates countries with safety problems to act upon them before a ban under the EU Air Safety List would become necessary, the statement read.

“This update of the Air Safety List is based on the unanimous opinion of the aviation safety experts from the Member States who met from 12-14 May 2020 under the auspices of the EU Air Safety Committee, via videoconference,” the EC said, adding that the assessment was made against international safety standards, and notably the standards promulgated by the ICAO.

The EASC member states will hold their next meeting in November to update the air safety list.

 


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