Saturday, December 7, 2013

Nepal: EU Bans All Airlines from Flying to the EU, Foreigners at Risk in Flying on Nepalese Carriers

According to The Daily Times, Nepal expressed fears on Friday (December 6) concerning its tourism industry after the European Union (EU) blacklisted its airlines due to safety concerns.

EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas announced on Thursday (December 5) that the EU had placed ALL of Nepal’s airlines on its air safety blacklist, banning them from flying to the EU, saying their safety record “does not leave us any other choice."

“This is very unfortunate. This will damage our tourism industry,” said Mohan Krishna Sapkota, spokesman for the tourism and civil aviation ministry.

No airlines from Nepal fly to the EU, yet tourists, trekkers and professional climbers — most of them Europeans and Americans — rely on the country’s sixteen accident-prone domestic airlines to reach remote areas.

COMMENT: The state-run Nepal Airlines, which flies to half a dozen foreign destinations including Hong Kong and Dubai, is the only local carrier operating international flights.

Nepal has suffered a number of air crashes in recent years, usually attributed to inexperienced pilots, poor management and maintenance issues.

A Chinese tourist and a local pilot were killed when an ultra-light aircraft crashed into a hill in the tourist town of Pokhara in early October.

In May, 21 people, including eight Japanese tourists, were hurt when a small plane skidded off an airport runway in northern Nepal.

In May 2012, fifteen people were killed at the same airport, while in September 2012, nineteen people, including seven Britons and four Chinese, were killed after a plane crashed minutes after taking off from Kathmandu.

THE KATHMANDU POST reported on Friday that Nepalese aviation officials had met the EU representatives in Brussels last month in which they had asked for a six-month period to improve safety standards, yet in terms of passenger safety, the EU was forced to act.

Regardless of the EU's action, foreign travelers are reminded that most of Nepalese aircraft, domestic commercial as well as charter, have been deemed to be unsafe by the EU. Consequently, fly such carriers at your own risk.