Nepali airline companies struggle for international flight permission

Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) is permitting foreign airlines to operate in Nepal whereas it is pausing Nepalese airlines to commence their international flight operation.

Few months ago, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) had halted the operation of new airlines in Nepal until the expansion of infrastructure of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and till the operation of Gautam Buddha International Airport at Bhairahawa. However, after some weeks after the notice was published, CAAN approved Wataniya Airlines of Kuwait to operate in Nepal and is operating currently. Similarly, Go Air of India and other airlines of countries like Macau have also given the process to fill the flight in Nepal.

CAAN prepared to stop providing the AOC (Air Operator’s Certificate) showing lack of parking bays and other infrastructure at TIA. Alpine air took the AOC in 1998 and BB airways in 2012. BB airways brought the Boeing 757 from Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) in auction whereas alpine air is in process of purchasing new aircraft. Shree airlines also applied for the permission to the ministry for international fight.

Although the ministry provided the license, CAAN is preparing to stop the AOC for new private airlines. Sources at CAAN said that the AOC will be provided after the airport in Bhairahawa comes into full operation in 2019.

Himalaya airlines and NAC; the airlines operating internationally are planning to purchase 2/2 Airbus A330-200 series wide-body aircraft. NAC is bringing the A330s in May/June this year. Currently, both airlines have 3 narrow-body aircrafts.

CAAN spokesperson Birendra Shrestha said that the authority have not decided to stop the AOC currently rather is planning to minimize the problem. TIA does not have ability to perform whole 24 hours and have problems of slot management and if the Bhairahawa airport comes into operation in early 2019, there won’t be problem and CAAN is planning accordingly, he added.

At present, TIA only has empty slot in the night so CAAN is unable to provide the AOC. CAAN has started ceasing the AOC of domestic airlines also but has been providing AOC to international airlines. Currently 27 international airlines operate in Nepal whereas 3 domestic airlines NAC, Himalayan and Buddha (charter flights only) airlines operate internationally.

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