KATHMANDU, Nov 24: Civil Aviation Authority Nepal (CAAN) has sought details of dues worth around Rs 2.5 billion that international airlines owe to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).
The aviation regulator, which owns the TIA, has also formed a probe committee under its director general Birendra Prasad Shrestha. “
"The probe committee has written to the TIA management to furnish details of dues to be paid by the airline”," said Shrestha“ "The TIA management has just given us preliminary. We are still to get the detailed report."
CAAN has given the committee 15 days to investigate the issue and submit a report to it.“
"The initial report shows outstanding dues worth billions of rupees. We are planning to talk to the concerned airlines regarding their du”s," said Shresth“. "We are investigating whether the airlines really owe such a huge service charge or the TIA management has failed to update its ledger," Shrestha added.
The probe committee has also been given the authority to recommend punishment against TIA officials if any nexus is found between them and the airlines in course of investigation.
The airlines have not paid service charges that they collect from air passengers and other fees such as the airport development fee, parking fee, navigation fee, security fee and counter-charges, among others. International airlines haven't paid the charges even though they mobilize revenue of around Rs 80 billion a year flying to and from Nepal.
Nepal's aviation market is worth nearly Rs 100 billion. The share of national flag carrier Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), however, is only around 10 percent.
Sources say airlines are not paying fees taking advantage of the inaction of TIA General Manager Devananda Upadhyay. They say Upadhyay has not enforced different regulations like Airport Service Charge Regulations-2067 BS and Financial Administration Regulations-2057 which provisions different action against airlines if they do not pay fees in time.
The airlines owe the TIA Rs 2.47 billion as of July 2017.
"Upadhyay hasn't corresponded with the airlines and other companies for due recovery," a highly-placed source at the TIA told Republica. "The due amount was negligible when he was appointed general manager of the TIA. He and officials working in finance division and revenue section are acting in collusion," the source added“. "Upadhyay did not take any action even after TAAN wrote a letter to him regarding outstanding dues."
According to the Airport Service Charge Regulations-2067 BS, it is the responsibility of the airport chief to collect service charges from the airlines. If any airline fails to pay such service charges within 60 days of the expiry of prescribed timeframe, the airport chief can order such airlines to stop flying to Nepal, according to the regulations.
'WE DON'T HAVE OUTSTANDING DUES'
Some international airlines operating flights to Nepal have said that they do not have any outstanding dues to pay to the TIA.
After Republica published story of TIA's failure to recover dues from international airlines, Air Arabia of United Arab Emirates (UAE), Malaysia Airlines and Indigo Air (India) provided Republica documents that show the airlines do not have any outstanding due.
According to the document, Malaysia Airlines paid Rs 2.1 million to TIA as landing, security and navigation fees, Rs 4 million as airport development fee, and Rs 4.8 million as passenger service charges. Similarly, Indigo paid Rs 4.7 million as airport development fee and Rs 3.7 million as passenger service charge. Likewise, Air Arabia has paid Rs 13 million as passenger service charge, Rs 8.6 million as airport development fee and Rs 9.6 million as landing, parking and navigation charges.