KATHMANDU, Feb 13: Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat has said that he would ask the European Union (EU) leaders to remove a ban on Nepali airlines in the EU skies.
Addressing a news conference at his office before heading for Brussels on Sunday, Minister Mahat said he would take up the issue during his meetings with senior European Commission (EC) officials in Brussels as Nepal is already close to meeting the basic minimum air safety standards as stipulated by the by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The global aviation safety standard of ICAO requires 60 percent score in implemantation of its eight critical indicators and the score required for the Asia-Pacific region is 59 percent. Minister Mahat said Nepal scores 58.4 percent and he would ask EU officials to consider removing the ban on Nepali airlines.
Although Nepal has lately introduced a slew of measures to improve its air safety stadard, the EU ban on Nepali airlines continues to remain in place. Tourism entrepreneurs have maintained that the EU ban on Nepali airlines has negatively affected Nepal's already ailing tourism industry. The EU ban, if not lifted, will affect the plan of Nepal Airlines to start direct flight to EU capitals including London in the near future.
Minister Mahat left for Brussels Sunday at the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Belgium Didier Reynders to participate in the International High Level Conference on Mediation: Possibilities and Limits of Recent Experience in the Pursuit of Peace scheduled for Tuesday.
Foreign Minister Dr Mahat is scheduled to hold meeting with EC President Jean-Cloude Juncker and EC High Representative on Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini in Brussels on Wednesday. "I will hold discussion on further strengthening our bilateral relations and expand our relations in various sectors including in trade, tourism and investment. I will take this opportunity to further clarify about Nepal's constitution.
Minister Mahat is also scheduled to visit Luxembourg and hold meetings with Prime Minister Xavier Bettle, Foreign Minister Jean Asselbron and Development Assistance Minister Romain Schneider. The meetings will focus on various issues of bilateral concerns including the expansion of trade between the two countries, investment promotion and tourism development.
Mahat will also participate in a function organized by Non-resident Nepalis in Belgium and Luxembourg and hold interactions with the Nepali nationals living there. He is also scheduled to address an interaction -- Inclusive Democracy and Economic Transformation in Nepal: Prospects and Challenges -- to be organized jointly by Embassy of Nepal in Brussels and The European Institute for Asian Institute before his return home on Friday.