October 23: The government’s plan to operate a flight school in Public Private Partnership (PPP) model for the generating human resource in the aviation sector is in limbo. The plan could not progress due to lack of interest by the private sector.
Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai had proposed to establish a flight school in Nepal as there is shortage of pilot globally and the numbers of airline companies are increasing in Nepal. Bhattarai had presented the concept of opening a school in collaboration with the private sector a few months ago. However, private sector does not seem to be much interested, said the minister.
In the budget announcement for the current fiscal year, the government has stated that it will encourage partnership and cooperation with the private sector for the construction, development and management of aviation infrastructure in the country. Nepali youths are obliged to go abroad for pilot training paying exorbitant price.
To end this trend, Minister Bhattarai had put forward the idea of establishing a flight school in Nepal itself. However, no concrete steps have been taken to this end except for the concept put forward by the minister.
According to Suresh Acharya, joint secretary at the ministry, the matter is still under discussion.
A few years ago, a flight school named Shibani Air came into operation in Nepal but it was shut down before it could take wings.
Birendra Bahadur Basnet, managing director of Buddha Air, says that there is no guarantee that opening a school will be viable in the long run if such pilot training institutes are opened only to meet the immediate demands. He further says that although the idea sounds attractive, a flight school cannot sustain with the demand within the domestic market. Manager of Shree Airlines, Anil Manandhar, also says sustaining the proposed school might be a problem due to the limited demand.
According to Airlines Operators Association of Nepal, around 30 youths go abroad for pilot training every year. As per the association, around 200 Nepali youths are studying pilot courses in different institutes abroad. Nepali youths are going to the US, France and South Africa to pursue pilot course. It costs Rs 6.5 million to 8.5 million to complete the pilot course.