Air Arabia not to be allowed to operate Kathmandu-KL flights

Tuesday, December 28, 2010, 18:39 by Aviation Correspondent

Air Arabia will no longer be allowed to operate flights on the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur route, says a directive from the International Relations and Human Rights Committee of the Nepalese parliament.

The government was requested to immediately cancel the permission that had been granted to the carrier. Air Arabia was scheduled to begin operating these flights on December 16, 2010.

This reversal of permission has been decreed due to the fact that the national flag carrier Nepal Airlines Corporation has not consented to allowing another airline entry on this route. Officials at the Tourism and Civil Aviation ministry have stated that since Nepal enjoys fifth freedom rights in the UAE, they would have no choice but to grant the UAE carrier permission to operate this route, and that the permission was granted based on the Air Service Agreement that has been signed with the United Arab of Emirates in October 1999.

They also warned that this cancellation of permission might adversely affect the diplomatic ties that currently existed between the two countries. Fifth freedom rights means that an airline is allowed to carry passengers from one´s own country to a second country and from that country to a third country.

The ministry officials point out that there was a good passenger demand on the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur route and that their decision to grant permission to Air Arabia was done after they took this into consideration. NAC can still enjoy good business on the route, they say.

However, lawmakers argue that the national interest of the country should be upheld while entering into any agreement, and since the national carrier was making a good profit by operating this route, it was not right to allow a competitor to come in. Officials at NAC say that such agreements should be signed with terms that assured a win-win situation for both parties involved, which was not the case in this situation.

The directive from the lawmakers requests that the government should put destinations like Malaysia, which are extremely profitable to the country, on the reservation list that excludes international carriers from enjoying fifth freedom rights. Locations like India and Thailand are on Nepal’s reservation list, which means that NAC has exclusive rights to operate services from Nepal to any and all locations in these countries.

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