Kathmandu, October 30
The Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) authority has said that it will seek the assistance of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — the trade association of world’s airlines — to collect pending dues from the Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia, which suspended its flights to Kathmandu from October 13.
AirAsia, which was under controversy for delaying the payment of airport service charge to the TIA authority, had suspended its flights to Nepal two weeks back citing lack of adequate number of passengers. However, the Malaysian airline company is yet to pay Rs 130 million (late fee) to the TIA authority though it cleared almost Rs 300 million service charge before leaving.
“Since AirAsia is unwilling to clear the remaining dues despite repeated notifications from us, we will be compelled to knock on the IATA’s door in the near future,” said Raj Kumar Chhetri, general manager of TIA.
As AirAsia had announced to cancel its flights to Kathmandu from October 13, TIA authority had grounded its Airbus 330 aircraft on October 12 asking the company to first clear its dues. However, the TIA authority allowed AirAsia to take away its aircraft the next day following commitment from the Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia’s office to settle the issue soon and a pledge from the Malaysian Embassy in Nepal to facilitate the issue.
The TIA now is seeking possible ways to collect remaining dues from AirAsia after the airline showed no further interest on this matter after suspending its flight to Kathmandu. “We will wait for a week more for AirAsia to pay its dues. If it still refuses to do so then we will consult with the Malaysian Embassy as it had earlier said it would facilitate the issue,” mentioned Chhetri, adding that the TIA authority will write a letter to IATA seeking its help to collect dues from AirAsia if the matter cannot be settled through the embassy.
The remaining dues worth Rs 130 million is the interest and other charges on the principal amount that AirAsia had delayed to pay before leaving Nepal.
The Malaysian airline has also not cleared almost Rs 70 million under the tourism service fee to Nepal Tourism Board (NTB). As AirAsia quit Nepal without clearing aforementioned dues, NTB has urged the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal to facilitate in collecting the sum from AirAsia.
Though AirAsia has quit Nepal, it has hinted that it could resume flights to Nepal any time in the future depending on the flow of passengers.
As the outflow of Nepali migrant workers to Malaysia will soon resume after Nepal and Malaysia inked the long-awaited labour pact, government officials expect AirAsia to resume flights to Kathmandu.
AirAsia had been conducting four flights a week to Kathmandu on an average utilising its Airbus 330 aircraft, with 274-seat capacity.
However, TIA is in no mood to allow the airline to resume flights to Nepal before it clears all pending dues.
A version of this article appears in print on October 31, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.