In a move concerning the Nepali aviation sector, the European Aviation Agency blacklisted all the Nepali airlines owing to Nepal’s outdated status on air safety regulations.
In its updated air safety list released on December 01, 2017, the agency under the European Commission (EC) placed Nepal among 16 other nations that were prohibited from flying in the 28-nation bloc of the European Union (EU).
“All air carriers certified by the authorities with responsibility for regulatory oversight of Nepal have been banned from operating within EU,” reads a statement by the European Agency.
A total of 178 airlines were banned from flying in EU bloc as per the new list. These include 18 Nepali air carriers.
The list was prepared based on the feedback of aviation safety experts of the EU member states under the EU Air Safety Committee (EASC) chaired by EC and supported by the European Aviation Safety Agency, at a meeting held during November 13-15, 2017.
EU’s recent announcement comes as a disappointment to Nepali Airlines Corporation (NAC) that has been keen on launching its services in EU.
EU’s ban continues despite the lift of a ban by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on Nepali airlines owing to their non-compliance to ICAO’s eight critical protocols.
ICAO later excluded Nepal from its Significant Safety Concern (SSC) list in July 20, 2017 supporting Nepali Airlines Corporation’s move to launch flights in Europe.
Stakeholders of the Nepali aviation sector feel that EU’s move might be a consequence of the Nepali Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation’s (MoCA) decision to summon the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Director General.
However, EC clarified that the assessment was made considering the international and ICAO’s safety standards.
“Why did responsible senior officials fail to approach EC to defend Nepal during the safety committee deliberations?” questions a Nepal Airlines Corporation official in response to the decision.
The official further informed that Nepali airlines are capable of meeting the international standards and the issues arose because of the lack of improvement in the concerned regulatory body operating under MoCA.
The official was disappointed at the arrival of such decision at a time when the country is aiming at one million annual tourist target and NAC is keen on operating two wide-body aircraft to European countries.
EASC’s next meeting to announce the air safety update list will take place during May-June 2018.