Nepali Airlines have been facing a longstanding ban on flights in Europe. The ban from the European Union nations was imposed on the Himalayan country’s carriers back in 2013, citing safety concerns. Now 10 years later, the plane crash at Nepal’s newly inaugurated Pokhara International Airport renews concerns regarding the safety of the flyers. Furthermore, exacerbating the concerns, experts believe that malfunctioning aircraft or pilot fatigue can be among the reasons for plane crashes. In addition, the landlocked country in the Himalaya’s does have a history of deadly plane crashes.
The consideration of a ban on Nepali Airlines was raised before 2013 because of the high accident rate in the country. Records say that there were, on average, two crashes a year in Nepa between 2008 and 2012. Moving on in 2013, the considerations changed into a decision after the Sita Air Crash that claimed the lives of 19 people, including British citizens.
Media reports at the time quote Siim Kallas, European Commission Vice-President responsible for transport in 2013, saying, “The current safety situation in Nepal does not leave us any other choice than to put all of its carriers on the EU air safety list. We do hope that this ban will help the aviation authorities to improve aviation safety.”
Though it is important to mention that every Nepalese airline has the capacity to fly to European countries, most of the international flights from the country to Europe are operated by airlines from other nations. Only Nepal Airlines is the country’s airline that ever made a flight towards Europe. The carrier conducted flights to places in Europe like Vienna, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, and London Gatwick.
In 2020, multiple media reports suggested that the European Union was considering withdrawing the ban on Nepalese airlines. Simple Flying quotes a statement from a press release of the European Union saying, “The Commission is aware of the efforts that the country has undertaken, notably as regards the proposed new aviation legislation currently before Nepal’s Parliament.” Such reports and speculations were prevalent until 2022. However, with the recent incident, the lifting of the ban might become a distant dream.