Wednesday, December 15, 2010

NAC unions obstruct domestic flights

The trade unions of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) didnot let operate any of its domestic flights to pressurise Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoTCA) to revoke its decision that allowed the UAE-based low-cost airliner Air Arabia fly on the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur route enjoying the fifth freedom right.
"We also denied entrance of the NAC officials into the head offices today," NAC Employees Association president Tarani Dahal said, adding that the programme will continue tomorrow too.
Normally, NAC has an average of 15 domestic flights daily. None of the flights could operate today due to the protest of the employees.
The Cabin Crew Association of Nepal (CCAN) and Nepal Airlines' Pilot Association (NAPA) also supported the three unions in the protest.
"We are meeting tomorrow at the Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) at 8 in the morning and deciding further protest programmes," he added.
The NAC employees are claiming that the ministry is trying to damage the national air carrier by allowing the Air Arabia fly on its most profitable route.
"The permission of allowing the Air Arabia fly on Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur route is illegal and against national interests," Dahal said, adding that the ministry has decided to allow Air Arabia fly on Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur route without taking NAC's consent.
However, the Nepal Airlines Act 2019 states that the ministry has to take advise not the consent and can decide on its own.
Earlier on Sunday, the Parliamentary Committee on International Relation and Human Rights has directed the ministry to cancel the decision of allowing Air Arabia's flight on Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur route. But the NAC itself is enjoying the fifth freedom right.
Meanwhile, the ministry and Air Arabia both decided to halt the flight of Air Arabia on the route until further notice.
The low-cost United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Air Arabia is scheduled to fly from December 16 and it has also sold tickets as the government has permitted Air Arabia to operate six flights a week on Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur route under the revised ASA between the UAE and Nepal in 2007.
The fifth freedom rights allows an airline to carry passenger from one’s own country to a second country and from that country to a third country.
The NAC flies six flights a week on the route. However, it has been able to fly only three flights as one of its aircraft is grounded at present.
Malaysia is the number one destination for the Nepali migrant workers. According to the Labour Department, in the first nine months of 2010, Malaysian embassy has issued 1,17,000 visas. Nepali migrant workers have been flying to Kuala Lumpur via Dhaka and New Delhi paying more air fare due to lack of enough flights on the route.