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Airlines to get temporary permits till ASAs revised

KATHMANDU, DEC 18 - The Tourism Ministry plans to continue the temporary operating permit (TOP) scheme for international airlines connecting Kathmandu in 2013.

A meeting between the ministry and representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) on Tuesday agreed to offer 12 additional flights per week to the countries that are likely to face an air seat shortage after their TOPs expire this year.

“We have decided to provide 12 extra flights weekly until the air service agreements (ASAs) with the respective countries can be revised,” said Suresh Acharya, joint secretary at the ministry. “The ministry is yet to approve the scheme.”

The government had issued the temporary permits to foreign carriers flying in and out of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in a bid to boost tourist arrivals during Nepal Tourism Year 2011 and Visit Lumbini Year 2012. The permits allowed airlines to operate additional flights without revising the ASA. In 2011, the government offered seven extra flights per week which was increased to 10 extra flights per week in 2012.

Ministry officials said that inbound and outbound travel demand had exceeded the capacity allowed by the ASAs, and that a number of countries had asked the government to amend the agreements. Officials said that the ministry had decided to extend the TOPs as the ASAs have not been revised. Requests to revise or sign new ASAs have been piling up at the ministry as it had been unable to move forward due to legal hurdles. The ministry has a two-year backlog of proposals.

“We have been forced to extend the temporary permits to 2013 as the ASAs have not been revised,” said Acharya. Carriers, however, will be required to submit additional paperwork this year. They have been asked to obtain an approval letter from their civil aviation authority.

CAAN officials said that Middle Eastern and Chinese airlines, in particular, were facing an air seat crunch due to rising movement of foreign tourists and Nepali migrants workers. Normally, ASAs are revised depending on the country’s requirement of air seats.

Posted on: 2012-12-19 08:56

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