Civil aviation experts have time and again advised the CAAN and the ministry to abide by the ICAO stipulations as Nepal is a signatory to the Chicago Convention
Nepal’s civil aviation sector has been marred due to mismanagement within the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), a government body that acts as an aviation regulator as well as airport and air navigation service provider.
However, it is sad to say that CAAN has failed to provide both the services required for enhancing efficiency in air safety and air worthiness.
Civil aviation experts have called for the separation of CAAN into two bodies – one taking care of airport and air navigation services and the other for the aviation regulatory system.
But the Ministry of Civil Aviation and CAAN are still undecided on whether or not to amend the existing law to bifurcate the regulatory body that has largely been ineffective resulting in frequent air accidents, poor handling of airports and issuing licenses to pilots haphazardly making Nepal’s sky unsafe and insecure.
Even the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has stressed the need to form two separate bodies to oversee air navigation services provider and its regulatory body.
The European Union has imposed a ban on the Nepali air carriers since 2014 from getting an entry into its sky for safety reasons and poor airworthiness.
In 2013, ICAO had designated significant safety concerns on Nepal’s aviation sector for its failure to meet ICAO stipulations in eight different critical areas including airworthiness, personal licensing, flight operations and accident investigation.
The main concerns of the ICAO were that CAAN and the government never fully implement recommendations for air safety and airworthiness to be made by the air investigation committees formed by the government.
The CAAN has however been trying to address the anomalies seen in the eight critical areas to meet the ICAO standards. But they are not satisfactory.
Since ICAO has been assisting CAAN in three sectors — flight operations, airworthiness and personal licensing — the UN aviation agency is sending a team of experts to Nepal next month to asses the improvement in these sectors.
Once the team of experts makes its assessment in Nepal’s air safety and airworthiness it is expected that the team will suggest removal of Nepal’s air carriers from the EU blacklist.
Civil aviation experts have time and again advised the CAAN and the ministry to abide by the ICAO stipulations as Nepal is a signatory to the Chicago Convention.
Undoubtedly, Nepal can reap immense benefits from tourism economy which is directly linked with the aviation sector, which has till date, earned a bad image due to frequent air accidents, mismanagement in personal licensing and poor handling of airports.
Various internationally renowned agencies have expressed willingness to assist in Nepal’s aviation sector and to improve efficiency of the aviation officials.
The need of the hour is to enhance the capability of the personnel involved in the aviation sector.
At the same time, the government should table a bill in Parliament to separate the CAAN limiting its role only as a regulatory body and another one for air navigation services and airports.
Fair and unfair
It will be some relief to the air passengers as the airfares on various domestic routes have come down after the airlines reduced fuel surcharge effective from yesterday following a drop in oil price.
The amounts of the decrease will range from Rs. 90 to Rs.300, depending on the destination.
The Airline Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN), the umbrella body of the domestic airlines, has been increasing or decreasing the fuel surcharge depending on the increase or decrease in the price of aviation turbine fuel.
The basic airfares had been fixed by the civil aviation ministry in 2009, with the airlines adjusting the prices from time to time based on the revisions in the price of aviation fuel. This is fair enough.
But if we compare it with the land transport, the scales have always been tilted against the passengers.
The diesel and petrol and gas have considerably gone down in price too. But we have not heard of a reduction in the fares of buses, minibuses, etc on both local and long distance routes.
Even in the Kathmandu Valley, a number of public vehicles are charging more than the fares fixed before the big cuts in the oil price instead of lowering them.
This is simply unfair. Should the authorities not do something about it?
A version of this article appears in print on December 08, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.
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