KATHMANDU, Nov 7: Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has requested helicopter companies not to operate any commercial flights in the Annapurna Conservation Area without taking permission from the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP).
The civil aviation regulator was responding to a letter sent to it by the ACAP last week. In its letter, the ACAP had drawn the attention of the CAAN toward operation of commercial flights to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) by different helicopter companies.
Rashmi Acharya, tourism officer at ACAP Pokhara Office, said that they have received positive response from CAAN headquarters as well as the Pokhara Office regarding the issue raised by them“ "We have received the letter from the CAAN. Now, we will send letter to helicopter companies requesting them to take flight permit from ACAP before operating any commercial flights in the Annapurna Conservation Are”," Acharya told Republica“ "CAAN has assured us to do the needful for controlling illegal operation of such commercial flight”."
According to Acharya, Simrik Air, Air Dynasty Heli Services and Prabhu Helicopter have been operating commercial flights to the Annapurna Base Camp without getting flight permits from the ACAP“ "We will now intensify monitoring in the Annapurna Base Camp and other areas, and take immediate action against them if they are found flouting the rule”," she added.
Bhola Guragain, chief of CAAN Pokhara Office, said that the office on Monday sent letters to three helicopter companies that have been found operating commercial flights to Annapurna BC“ "Chopper operators like Simrik Air, Heli Air Nepal, Prabhu Helicopter, Fishtail Air and Air Dynasty Heli Services, among others, are found operating commercial flights to the Annapurna Base Cam”," Guragain said, adding“ "ACAP should now intensify its monitoring to make sure that helicopter companies abide by its rule”."
Rajan Pokharel, deputy director of CAAN, said that they will also write to helicopter companies, asking them to abide by the ACAP rules.
As ACAP itself was not taking any initiative to collect fee from helicopter companies in the past, many operators do not know such rules exist“ "We are aware of the fact that lack of monitoring by the ACAP is one of the reasons that encouraged chopper operator to flout the rules. But it won't happen again”," Acharya added.