EU’s Nepalese Airline Ban ‘Clear Sign Of Country’s Flight Safety Failings’

Families Of Britons Killed in Air Crash In Nepal Back Decision As Fight For Justice Continues

12.12.2013

Lawyers representing the loved ones of Britons killed in a plane crash in Nepal last year, have described the decision to ban the country’s airlines from flying within the EU as an important step forward, but warned that more needs to be done to improve Nepal's shocking aviation safety record.
 
The European Commission has confirmed that all Nepalese airlines have been added to the EU Air Safety List – known as the Blacklist – which names airlines banned from operating within the EU. The decision was taken after a review of safety information from a range of sources and a hearing with both Nepalese authorities and carriers.
 
It means that airlines from Nepal are prohibited from flying into or within EU airspace, while operators and travel agents in Europe will have to inform travellers of the change if they have made a booking on a Nepalese carrier. Travellers would then have a right to be reimbursed if they decide not to take the trip as a result.
 
The news of the ban has been welcomed by Irwin Mitchell’s specialist aviation law team, which has been calling upon the EU Transport Committee to take action including a ban of this kind.

The law firm represents the families of several passengers killed in the fatal Sita Air crash in Nepal in September 2012.
 
The tragedy involved a Dornier 228 aircraft crashing to the ground shortly after take-off at Kathmandu-Tribhuvan Airport, killing 19 passengers and crew on board. It was the sixth fatal incident in the country in a two-year period and there have been three further crashes in the country since.

Expert Opinion
The decision of the European Commission to ban Sita Air and other Nepalese airlines is very welcome and is a damning indictment of flight safety in Nepal.

"We have been liaising with the European Commission and called upon the Commission to take action in relation to air safety in Nepal. We are delighted that our concerns have been listened to and hope that this decision will be a wake-up call to both airlines and the aviation authorities in Nepal. Urgent steps are needed to improve flight safety there and we hope that this action will provide the incentive to improve standards and better protect aircraft passengers in the future.

"There have been a number of tragic aviation accidents in Nepal in recent years and too many lives have been cut short or ruined as a result. While it is too late for all of those have been killed or left seriously injured, this is a positive step forward which we hope will help protect future travellers to what is in many ways a wonderful and beautiful country.”

"The official accident report into the Sita Air crash released in August this year highlighted very serious concerns, such as overloading of the aircraft, the pilot failing to use the correct speed at take-off and indications that pilots were not adequately trained to handle a single engine failure in emergency conditions."
Clive Garner, Partner

Angela Gaunt, from Warrington, who lost her husband Tim Oakes in the Sita Air crash in September last year, said: "This decision should be the prompt for action to be taken to improve aviation safety standards in Nepal.

"It is with this in mind that I can take some comfort from the fact that something 'good' may come from the devastating loss of my husband Tim and his best friend Steve. There has not been a minute since the September 28th 2012 that I have not missed him or reflected on why such poor standards were allowed to exist, putting lives at risk.

"I would like to see the EU negotiate with other international aviation bodies to extend this decision to the rest of Asia, as many Japanese, Chinese and Indian tourists have also been killed in plane crashes in Nepal."

Maggie Holding, from Stoke-on-Trent, who lost her husband Steve in the incident, added: "This excellent news feels like a positive step forward. However, this only relates to flights to Nepal.
 
"I would like it made obligatory for European operators and Travel Agents to inform their clients about their risks in taking internal flights in Nepal. It is only then that they will be carrying fully informed travellers.
 
"In addition, travel companies who offer adventure holidays need to ensure that by using only airlines with high safety standards – ‘adventure’ begins after travellers have arrived at their destination. Risk should not be part of their journey.

"Lessons need to be learned from the past tragedies if improvements are ever going to be seen."

Expert Opinion
This announcement from the European Commission has vindicated our call for action to be taken to improve flight safety standards in Nepal.

"We remain determined to gain justice for our clients following the Sita Air tragedy and are preparing to commence court proceedings in the English High Court against Explore Worldwide Ltd, the tour operator that selected Sita Air to provide the flight in Nepal which crashed, tragically killing 19 passengers and crew."
Clive Garner, Partner