Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Parliamentary committee directs Ministry of Tourism to come clean on Air Arabiar Arabia

Parliamentary committee on International Relations and Human Rights today expressed its concerns over the decision of Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation's (MoTCA) major to provide Air Arabia the Fifth Freedom right making it difficult for the national flag carrier — Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) to compete with it.

"We want to study the Air Service Agreement (ASA)," directed the president of the committee Padmalal Bishwakarma.

"The committee also wants to inquire minister of MoTCA on December 12," he said, adding that the NAC should also come with its business plan that how much will it loose if the ministry gives Fifth Freedom right to Air Arabia.

The NAC employees have yesterday warned to shut down Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), if the government did not revoke its decision to allow Air Arabia to operate Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur flights.

They blamed that Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) had decided unilaterally to provide Fifth Freedom rights to the carrier. The Fifth Freedom right allows an airline to pick up passengers at one destination and continue to another destination.

"Selling NAC’s lucrative route is an intention to make the national flag carrier go bankrupt, they said, adding that Malaysia is the most lucrative destination of the national flag-carrier. "The move was 'though legal', it is against the national interest."

However, defending the decision in front of the commission, MoTCA secretary Kishor Thapa said that the move is in the broader national interest.

The country is celebrating Nepal Tourism Year 2011 with an aim to attract 1 million tourists and the NAC had been compelled to compete against the government's decision.

The Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur route is one of the lucrative sectors for NAC that earns Rs 8 million on a single flight.

Air Arabia is scheduled to start its service to Malaysia from its hub in Sharjah on December 16 and it has already started selling tickets for the flight directly from its two official agents in Kathmandu.

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