In the realm of diplomacy and international relations, the significance of seamless coordination and competence among government agencies cannot be overstated. Recent developments involving the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) ordering a halt to Korean Air flights, seemingly without a cohesive and consultative approach within the government, underscore the necessity for effective inter-ministerial collaboration. CAAN directed the general sales agent of Korean Air not to sell tickets for the new schedule. As tickets for the summer schedule have already been sold, CAAN officials sent a letter to Universal Travel and Tours, the general sales agent for Nepal of Korean Air, asking the latter not to sell winter tickets. The abrupt decision by CAAN to halt Korean Air flights raises serious concerns about the level of coordination and competence within our government. The timing of this decision is equally concerning to take note of. The decision comes a few days after Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal held a meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in New York to bolster ties between the two countries. This also comes days before Korea is celebrating its National Day on Wednesday. The decision made by CAAN cannot help us nurture relations and trust in the international arena.
CAAN cited delays caused by Korean authorities in granting flight permissions to Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) as the reason for their punitive action against Korean Air. While addressing such concerns is indeed necessary, it is equally essential to address these issues through diplomatic channels. Initiating a sudden ban on flights without engaging in diplomatic negotiations is an imprudent approach and reflects a lack of a strategic and diplomatic mindset. Needless to say, South Korea is a vital development partner for Nepal, and it serves as a significant destination for Nepali migrant workers. The Nepali diaspora in South Korea is substantial, with thousands of workers contributing to the economy and fostering bilateral ties. Disrupting air travel abruptly can jeopardize the relationship, affecting not only the economic aspect but also the overall diplomatic rapport between the two nations. It is worth noting that Korea is one of our key development partners and a popular labor destination for thousands of Nepali nationals. In 2022, around 14,000 workers entered Korea from Nepal alone. The total number of Nepali workers who have entered Korea under EPS stood at 80,161 by 2022. About 37,000 workers are still working in Korea.
The approach of imposing a ban on flights as a form of punishment raises questions about the efficacy and decision-making process of CAAN. A more prudent course of action would have been to engage in high-level diplomatic discussions to address the concerns and seek an amicable resolution. Knee-jerk reactions in international relations can have far-reaching consequences, and it is imperative that government agencies exercise caution and consult all relevant stakeholders before making decisions that could impact the nation's standing in the international arena. Furthermore, the timing of this decision is questionable, especially given the ongoing efforts to enhance diplomatic relations and the impending Korean National Day celebration. Such actions should ideally be well-coordinated, ensuring that they align with broader diplomatic goals and objectives. It is crucial for our government, and particularly CAAN, to engage in thorough consultation and coordination with relevant ministries and stakeholders before making decisions that could potentially strain diplomatic relations. International diplomacy demands prudence, foresight, and effective communication, attributes that should be upheld at all levels of government. Let us strive for a more judicious and coordinated approach to safeguard our diplomatic ties and advance our national interests.