Pokhara, December 13
Paragliding pilots in Pokhara brought the adventurous sport to a grinding halt today, owing to their rift with the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
They accused CAAN of illegally collecting an additional sum of Rs 9,000 per month from them. “CAAN used to charge a foreign para pilot Rs 4,500 for 15 days.
As new policy is being imposed on Nepali pilots unilaterally, we had no option but to resort to protest,” said Rajesh Bamjan, a Nepali pilot.
Though scores of tourists who visit Pokhara for paragliding are a disappointed, Bamjan said, “Our protest will continue until the authority concerned withdraws its decision.” “In case of accident, there is no rescue management. Paragliding companies manage the ground for landing and take-off themselves, something CAAN should be facilitating.
CAAN is responsible for the halting of services at a time when the tourism sector is already adversely affected,” said Basanta Raj Dawadi, general secretary of the Nepal Air Sports Association.
Bamjan said imposition of additional financial charge was unjust, as the CAAN collects revenue while issuing licences.
Agitating pilots wondered why only the paragliding pilots were being charged an additional tariff when it did not impose any such tariff on ultra light planes and others operating from Pokhara Airport.
CAAN’s acting chief at Pokhara Airport Yogendra Kunwar, however, claimed that it was a new provision. “Though the issue is being raised now, CAAN has been collecting the tariff as flight permission since long,” said Kunwar.
CAAN had already issued flight licences to 100 para-pilots till mid-September. All of them were tandem pilots.
A total of 45 companies are operating paragliding flights in Pokhara, according to CAAN.