Upper House endorses draft bills that will allow splitting the aviation bodyThe Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Bill and Air Service Authority of Nepal Bill will now be sent to the Lower House for deliberation and final passage.
Approval of the draft Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Bill and Air Service Authority of Nepal Bill means the government can now register them at the Lower House for deliberation and approval. The two pieces of legislation will become law after they are signed by the President.
“The government has been working to separate the civil aviation body for a long time; but due to various reasons, it has not happened. We hope to be removed from the European Commission's air safety list after the civil aviation body is broken up,” Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai told the Upper House during Monday's deliberations.
Answering lawmakers' queries, Bhattarai said that the chairman of the board of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal could be the tourism minister or an aviation expert having 10 years' experience in the field.
The board, since it will play a regulatory role, will not include a representative of airlines, but instead an expert having 10 years' experience in aviation will be appointed as member.
Under the new civil aviation act, the government will overhaul the prevailing hire law and allow any Nepali citizen to apply for the post of director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
Previously, potential candidates had to be a deputy director general of the aviation authority or joint secretary in the Aviation Department of the Tourism Ministry.
The legislation envisages integrating previous acts to eliminate conflicts and contradictions at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, which is currently functioning as both regulator and service provider from the same office, and there is no clear demarcation between its duties and organisational structure.
Due to the delay in passing the legislation, several international aviation safety agencies have even slammed Nepal’s poor progress in ensuring air safety.
The Air Service Authority of Nepal will consist of a board chaired by the tourism secretary or an expert with 10 years' experience in civil aviation. The service authority's board, however, will contain representatives of airlines as its members.
Following questions from lawmakers why the proposed legislation allows the minister or an expert to become board chairman, Minister Bhattarai said that, in some countries, the minister represents the board while in other countries, the board is chaired by an expert. “Based on our studies, we have included options for both provisions,” he said.
The government has been working on the proposed legislation for the last nine years, but it has been plagued by bureaucracy at every step. Following pressure from a number of global aviation watchdogs, the cabinet gave the go-ahead to the Tourism Ministry last July to draft two separate aviation bills to break up the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
In December 2013, the European Commission imposed a blanket ban on all airlines from Nepal from flying into the 28-nation bloc after the September 2012 crash of Sita Air Flight 601 in the Manohara River that killed 19 people, including seven British citizens.
No Nepali airline flies to the EU, but the commission became concerned enough to prevent
them from entering the continent after a spate of air crashes in Nepal. Between
2008 and 2012, there were at least at least two air crashes annually.
In December 2013, the European Commission put Nepal on its air safety list, banning all carriers certified in Nepal from flying into the EU because of significant safety deficiencies requiring decisive action.
In July 2017, the International Civil Aviation Organisation removed the 'significant safety concerns' tag it had put on Nepal four years ago after assessing that safety standards had improved on a par with global standards.
In 2014, Spanish consultancy INECO prepared the first draft of the proposed legislation with a $4.2 million funding from the Asian Development Bank following approval from the board of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal in 2010.
Since then, a number of drafts have been prepared and thrown away. The latest draft of the bill was prepared by a consulting firm of former law secretary Raju Man Singh Malla and reviewed by the Tourism Ministry.