The Nepali Economy and Aviation: Why are these two so intertwined?

N509FZ, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – The tourism-dependent economy of Nepal has been hit hard by the pandemic, and its ailing “unsafe” aviation industry, as the government delays the passing of twin aviation bills.

Experts have called for Nepal’s need to separate Civil Aviation Authority into service providers and regulators to be removed from the European Commission’s Air Safety List. 

The country’s tourism and aviation sector are fazed by the Parliaments’ ineffectiveness in passing long-pending civil aviation bills that could severely undermine their growth and certainly do long-term damage.

The country’s parliament ended its five-year tenure on the 18th of September without any resolving aviation problems. 

This could be a major problem for the country as Nepal is highly dependent on tourism.

Experts cite that the hospitality industry, which has been the bread and butter for the landlocked country, could take off and bring billions into the country as the post-Covid optimism picks up. However, the failure of parliament to pass aviation-related bills. 

The aim of the legislation was to split the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal into two entities—service provider and regulator—which will satisfy and fulfill a key requirement of the European Commission.

This is crucial for the commission to remove Nepali airlines from the air safety list. This would allow airlines registered in Nepal to fly to Europe, with the hopes of bringing in more tourists.

However, the government is not keen on reforming and splitting the aviation agency, experts say. This creates even more headaches and headwinds. 

The country’s image remains in a dire state in terms of its poor aviation safety standard.

In fact, the  European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), an agency of the European Union (EU) responsible for civil aviation safety, will send an audit team to conduct an independent audit on the country’s aviation landscape.

An undisclosed official at the Nepalese Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal stated: 

“The team is scheduled to begin the audit on October 5.”

“The recent development shows Nepal will remain on the air safety list for more years, as Nepal has wilfully declined requests by various global aviation watchdogs to end the ongoing conflict of interest at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, which has been performing a dual role and hampering safety.”

“This will cost Nepal in the long run.”

In fact, the recommendation for Nepal to split the civil aviation body into two entities is not something new, as the United Nations aviation watchdog International Civil Aviation Organisation had previously asked to do so in August. 

The separation is a crucial stepping stone to reforming the nation’s aviation institutions, which is on the works for many years. These efforts were never hailed as a success. 

The country is in urgent need of reforming its aviation regulatory landscape as the country has witnessed numerous air accidents.

This includes 2013, when the European Commission slapped a blanket ban on Nepali Airlines to the European Union after the crash of Sita Air Flight 601 near Kathmandu Airport, killing 19 people on board. 

Numerous high-profile business leaders in Nepal have been calling their political leaders to amend bills to finally reform the industry.

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