Investment on aviation sector inadequate: Expert

Kathmandu, November 28:

Nepal is doing its best it can to enhance the aviation sector but it requires a strong political commitment and sufficient resource to be able to position itself well on the global aviation map, said Lalit Bikram Shah, Asia Pacific regional director of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

“Nepal could play a much better role on the global aviation map but the industry has not been explored much as one would like to see,” Shah told this daily stating that the country’s aviation sector lacks adequate resources and investment.

Ample resources, investment, professionalism, highly skilled and motivated manpower are needed to strengthen the country’s aviation industry, he said. Coordination among all stakeholders will equally play a crucial role in the industry.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), according to him, is working hard and complying by ICAO standards but it needs “full support” from the government. Shah is the highest serving Nepali working for the ICAO, a “specialised agency” of the United Nations. Nepal is a member state of ICAO, which was formed in 1944.

Air operation in Nepal is quite unique and challenging judging by the mountainous terrain in the country and the pilots here are doing a commendable job, he said.

On the issue of brain drain in the aviation sector, he said, there is a growing trend of highly skilled professionals in the industry leaving the country but “it is for the regulatory body and airlines to work together and settle the problem,” he said.

Aviation sector is one of the fastest growing industries around the world. About two billion people world over travel by air every year. “Considering the aviation growth and increasing air traffic volume, we all need to work harder to maintain even the current level of aviation safety standards,” said Shah.

Air transport is the safest mode of transport and the air crash rate is only about 0.02 per million passengers per kilometre in the global context, he said.

“Air transport is an everyday transport and should be accessible to all. It connects people including those in far-flung areas in Nepal,” he said.

The aviation industry should not be seen as a purely commercial venture, it should rather be seen as a “proactive catalyst,” he said. Globally, it has created about 20 to 30 million jobs and the wealth generated from this sector amounts to trillions of dollars, he said.