EU continues ban on Nepali airlines

Kathmandu, December 12

The European Commission has decided to continue its ban on Nepali airlines from flying into the 28-nation bloc of the European Union, stating that the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has failed to address safety concerns.

In its updated air safety list that was made public in Brussels yesterday, the EC said Nepali airlines were still subject to an operating ban within

the EU because of CAAN’s failure to rectify safety short-comings. The EC had blacklisted Nepal, placing restrictions on Nepali airlines for the first time on December 5, 2013. “Update of the Air Safety List is based on the unanimous opinion of the EU Air Safety Committee, which met from November 24 to 26,” it stated.

The European Aviation Agency has repeatedly made it clear that it is unlikely to remove Nepali airlines from its blacklist unless the International Civil Aviation Organisation closed its significant safety concerns about the country’s aviation sector. EU ban followed by ICAO’s SSCs is a major setback to country’s aviation industry and the tourism sector.

“Assessment is made against international safety standards, and notably the standards promulgated by the ICAO,” the EC’s announcement mentioned. The United Nations aviation organisation had cited a number of deficiencies in regulatory oversight ranging from airworthiness to flight operation or implementation of accident investigation recommendations to personnel licensing in Nepal.

Though CAAN plans to close SSCs by July, ICAO generally takes four to five months to send its mission to conduct the final audit after formally receiving invitation from its party nation. Making a tall claim, CAAN’s Director General Sanjiv Gautam last week announced that the regulatory- cum-service providing body was doing its bit to get removed from EU blacklist by the end of 2016. He said CAAN also planned to write to ICAO for off-site validation in a few days.

While major Nepali airlines claimed that they had already improved their overall capacity to meet the international standards set by ICAO and EU, the continuation of ban was a result of CAAN’s failure in part to provide the necessary safety oversight as foreseen by international aviation safety rules. “It’s still uncertain when and how the regulatory-cum-service providing body can utilise ICAO’s expertise on air worthiness, flight operations and personnel licensing through already sanctioned safety fund worth $600,000 to Nepal.”

CAAN officials, however, agreed that it was highly unlikely for CAAN to invite early ICAO’s final validation mission to close the SSCs until the completion of the safety fund project.

Major safety concerns

  • Personnel licensing
  • Licensing of air carriers
  • Oversight of air operations
  • Recommendations of accident investigation reports
  • Airworthiness and flight safety
  • Certification process of airline operators
  • Overall capacity of CAAN