June 22: Airline companies operating domestic flights and helicopter service in Nepal have withdrawn their strike. The Airline Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN) had warned that the companies would suspend all flights if the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) did not address their demands.
However, the airline companies resumed service from 11 am on Wednesday fearing action from the government. But the airline operators' association said the strike has been postponed after the government expressed its commitment to resolve the issue. Yeti Airlines on Wednesday tweeted that all the postponed flights have been resumed.
Due to the gravity of the issue, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had held a meeting with Tourism Minister Prem Ale and CAAN Director-General Pradip Adhikari in Baluwatar to discuss the issue.
During the discussion, the government decided to take initiative to revoke the license of the striking airline companies and arrest the protesters and take legal action against them.
Earlier, the government had issued a warning that the operators of the airline companies would be arrested under the Emergency Services Act and their license revoked if they did not resume service taking into consideration the inconvenience it might cause to the general public.
The government has placed the air service under essential service by publishing a notice in the Nepal Gazette on June 9. According to the notice, strikes are not allowed in sectors providing essential services, and violators could be prosecuted.
The domestic airliners had announced a strike after CAAN decided to relocate 67 per cent of the existing aircraft and helicopters to airports outside the Kathmandu Valley for night stop.
The Nepal Airlines Operators Association of Nepal, an umbrella organization of private airline operators, held a press conference on Tuesday and put forth the five-point demand. They had warned of suspending domestic flights from Wednesday if their demands were not addressed.
CAAN, on the other hand, insisted that its decision will not be revoked. CAAN had decided to shift the parking base of helicopters and aircraft from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) to outside the Kathmandu Valley.
As per the decision, helicopters and aircraft will be sent out of Kathmandu for night-stop parking and they are required to operate the first flight of the day from the base airport (stop area).
According to the CAAN, the decision to shift the parking space was taken to reduce parking loads at TIA. In case of airlines companies, the decision shall come into effect from June 27 while the helicopters companies are required to implement it from June 21.