Ministry, Qatar embassy dismiss Assembly chair’s claim about Pokhara flight plansQuoting Al-Hail, Timilsina had said Nepal snubbed Qatar’s bid for flying straight to Pokhara.
On Friday, hours after National Assembly Chairman Ganesh Prasad Timilsina’s office issued a statement claiming that Nepal ignored repeated requests by Qatar Airways to start direct flights between Doha and Pokhara, Nepal government and the Qatari embassy have dismissed the claims.
“We have already written to the government five to six times to start direct flights, but we are yet to hear back from the Nepal government,” National Assembly chair Ganesh Prasad Timilsina’s secretariat quoted Ambassador of Qatar to Nepal Yusuf bin Muhammad Al-Hail as saying.
The Tourism Ministry said that there is no truth in the statement.
“We haven’t received any communication from Qatar Airways,” said Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane, joint secretary at the ministry, who heads the aviation affairs division.
“We would welcome Qatar Airways had it applied for flight permission.”
The civil aviation regulator, too, rebuffed the statement.
“Contrary to the claims made by some media sources, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) confirms that no correspondence related to flight permission request has been received to date to operate flights in Pokhara International Airport,” Nepal’s civil aviation body tweeted.
The embassy also dismissed the claims made in the statement by the secretariat of the upper house chair.
“I have not said anything like that, so there is no need to give clarification,” an official at the embassy quoted the ambassador as saying.
According to the National Assembly chair’s secretariat, the Qatari ambassador added that there are no hindrances in operating direct flights to Pokhara and Bhairahawa airports if Nepal moves ahead with the necessary procedures.
The Pokhara International Airport, which was inaugurated on January 1, has not received a single international passenger flight, while the story of Nepal’s another new international airport in Bhairahawa is no different.
On Friday morning, the Qatari envoy, who is leaving Nepal after completing his tenure, had called on the upper house chair at Singha Durbar. And Timilsina’s secretariat came up with the misleading statement soon after the meeting.
The upper house chair and the envoy also discussed the development of broader and more profound bilateral relations between Nepal and Qatar in the fields of employment, trade, investment and tourism, among others, according to the statement.
Timilsina praised the Qatar government for providing job opportunities to a large number of Nepalis and expressed his satisfaction with the contributions made by Nepali workers to boost Qatar’s economy, his secretariat said.
Timilsina added Nepal has prioritised sending semi-skilled and skilled workers to ensure better jobs and high incomes in labour markets of countries including Qatar.
During the courtesy call, the ambassador appreciated the contribution made by Nepali workers to the development of Qatar and said that he was also serious about providing them more benefits.