BERLIN: Airlines rushed on Thursday to change rules to require a second crew member in the cockpit at all times, hours after French prosecutors suggested a co-pilot who barricaded himself alone at the controls of a jetliner had crashed it on purpose.
The United States already requires two crew members to be in the cabin at all times, but many other countries do not, allowing pilots to leave the flight deck, for example to use the toilet, as long as one pilot is at the controls.
That is precisely what French prosecutors suspect happened on the Germanwings flight on Tuesday. They say Andreas Lubitz, 27, locked the captain out and appears to have set the controls to crash into a mountain, killing all 150 people on board.
Airlines including Norwegian Air Shuttle, Britain’s easyJet , Air Canada and Air Berlin all said within hours that they had introduced a requirement that two crew members be in the cockpit at all times.
Canada said it would immediately impose such a rule on all its airlines.
“We had a lot of concerned customers,” an Air Berlin spokesman said.
Airlines including Ryanair that already had such rules in place rushed to reassure customers.
Among the companies that did not announce such a policy change was Germanwings parent Lufthansa, whose CEO Carsten Spohr said he believed it was unnecessary.
“I don’t see any need to change our procedures here,” Spohr told journalists. “It was a one-off case. But we will look at it with the various experts at Lufthansa and the authorities. We shouldn’t lose ourselves in short-term measures.”
His comments drew criticism on Twitter, with some people demanding the airline introduce the two person-rule.
Later on Thursday Spohr told German broadcaster ARD that Lufthansa would sit down with other German carriers and the country’s aviation authority on Friday to discuss the matter. “We will see whether there are measures that can be taken quickly to further improve safety,” he said.
Germany’s aviation association BDL said all airlines in the country, including Lufthansa, had agreed to discuss such rule changes.
“Today we spoke with all our members about possible consequences,” BDL managing director Matthias von Randow told Reuters. “We will therefore look at introducing these new procedures without delay.”
The incident is likely to provoke further debate about the future of cockpit protections. Since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, regulators have required cockpit doors to be impenetrable when locked from the inside.
But the idea that pilots themselves could be a danger creates reason to re-examine such policies, said retired French crash investigator Alain Bouillard.
“Today we have the reverse question: should we be blocking doors?” he said.
Last year’s disappearance of Malaysia Airlines 370 raised such questions, although whether the pilots played any role in that plane’s disappearance has never been confirmed.
Travel review portal TripAdvisor has announced ‘Travelers’ Choice Destinations 2015?, putting Kathmandu in the 19th position. Kathmandu is the only South Asian city to feature in the list.
“Nepal’s capital is surrounded by a valley full of historic sites, ancient temples, shrines, and fascinating villages,” the site writes about Kathmandu. It has suggested travelers to “mingle with locals and animals amid Durbar Square’s monuments, or join mountain trekkers in the bustling Thamel”. The site has also advised visitors to explore shops for exquisite work by local artisans, adding that carpets and paper prints are specialties.
The top 25 destinations were selected using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for hotels, restaurants and attractions in destinations worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period.
Marrakech (Morocco) features at the top of the list. Other destinations in the list are: Siem Reap (Cambodia), Istanbul (Turkey), Hanoi (Vietnam), Prague (Czech Republic), London (England), Rome (Italy) Buenos Aires (Argentina), Paris (France), Cape Town (South Africa), New York (United States), Zermatt (Switzerland), Barcelona (Spain), Goreme (Turkey), Ubud (Indonesia), Cuso (Peru), St. Petersburg (Russia), Bangkok (Thailand), Athens (Greece), Budapest (Hungary), Queenstown (New Zealand), Hong Kong, Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and Sydney (Australia).
“These world-class destinations chosen by our community are rich in history, culture and beauty and offer endless sights to explore,” Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor, said in the statement.
Though only in his 30s, Rajan Simkhada has already created a niche in tourism industry
Rajan Simkhada is a young and energetic entrepreneur with Nepali tourism industry. Born in 1976 in Darkha of Dhading district, Simkhada leads a number of companies including hotels, resorts and trekking agencies, among others.
But Simkhada, who wanted to be a chartered accountant when he completed graduation in first division, said he never imagined he would make a career in tourism industry. “It just happened,” he shares. “I used to see trekkers heading toward Ganesh Himal through my village and wonder who are they, where are they from and where are they heading to. I entered tourism sector searching answers to these questions.”
After completing early school education in his birthplace, he came to Kathmandu at the age of 16. He passed SLC examination from Shanti Vidya Griha and started studying commerce in Shankar Dev College. As he was in Kathmandu on his own, he did many odd jobs to eke out a living. His first job in the tourism industry was a front office attendant in a Thamel hotel. There he quickly learnt the trade and found himself getting more immersed into the industry. Eventually, he opened Earthbound Expeditions in 1997.
“As I am an outgoing person by nature, tourism is the most suitable career for me,” he added.
Today, he is involved in number of companies like Earthbound Expeditions, Thamel Eco Resort, Pokhara Eco Resort, Mo Mo Hut and Nepal Yoga Retreat, among others.
“I have been trying to introduce new dimensions in the tourism sector,” he said referring to his venture Nepal Yoga Retreat and Spa Centre in Chhaling of Bhaktapur. Nepal Yoga Retreat is a yoga center where one can find simple and wholesome organic food and learn yoga philosophy by trained experts.
Explaining the reasons behind opening yoga center, Simkhada said many people are in need of peace of mind. “Once can stay in our yoga center, learn yogic activities under guidance of trained expert and enjoy serenity of the place. They are served pure organic vegetables,” he said, adding, “This is a part of our effort to promote spiritual and health tourism.
He also unveiled his dream plan of running a spiritual resort in Nepal. “I want to open yoga and spiritual resort hotel or retreat having four or five star facilities because I have seen the prospect that this sector offers. If things go as planned, I will do that,” he added.
Simkhada is a man of multi-faceted personality. Not only a successful entrepreneur, he is a popular face in Nepali television as well – known mostly for comic roles. “I have acted in dozens of television films. People have appreciated by roles. Sometimes they even call me by my screen names,” he added.
As someone who started career in tourism industry as a front office attendant, Simkhada today employs more than 200 people. “Though I couldn’t be a chartered accountant, I am in a position to hire couple of them,” the successful tourism entrepreneur said.
Simkhada feels tourism is one sector which can stop exodus of youth to foreign job destinations and top brain drain. “My 16 cousins are plying their trade in foreign countries. But I am staying in Nepal. I want young people to realize that there is endless possibility in Nepal. You only need to know how to tap it,” he said, adding that with hard work and honesty there is nothing that cannot be achieved.
Simkhada is a busy bee. As he is busy in his different ventures, he has been failing to give proper time to his family. “As I started everything from scratch, I have to devote lot of time to my business. But my family is understanding,” he said. Simkhada married in 2006. The couple is blessed with two cute sons.
The young entrepreneur sees great potential for tourism development in Nepal. “We have tremendous possibilities. But we are failing to exploit it,” he said. “The government should do something for stopping exodus of youth. If young blood is in foreign land, who will build this country,” he wondered.
– Kishor Basnyat
RAM SHARAN THAPALIYA TO CONTINUE AS PRESIDENT
Thamel Tourism Development Committee has unanimously elected a new executive under the leadership of incumbent president Ram Sharan Thapaliya.
The team was declared elected unopposed as no other candidacies were filed for the post of president, office-bearers and executive members.
Samir Gurung, Sangharsh Bista and Rajuman Dangol are the three vice presidents in the committee. Similarly, Govinda Pant is the general secretary while Gita Gurung and Ramesh Tripathi are secretary and treasurer, respectively.
Tashi Gurung, Hari Bhetwal, Deven Giri, Punyaram Lageju, Ram Kumar Lama, Sahadev Dhamala, Rajkuman Pandey and Deepak Nepal are the executive committee members. Bhavi Sharma and Rajendra Dulal are the nominated executive committee members.
TTDC plans to announce the new executive committee during its 19th and 20th annual general meeting (AGM) to be held in Kathmandu on March 29.
Tourist arrivals to Nepal via air dropped by a marginal 0.3 percent to 585,981 in 2014 compared to figures of a year.
This is the second straight year that Nepal has witnessed fewer tourist arrivals via aerial route. In 2013, tourist arrivals had dropped by 1.73 percent to 587,842. Number of tourists in 2012, however, had increased by 9.8 percent to 598.204.
Drop in tourist arrivals have been blamed to the impacts of avalanche in the Everest region in April and blizzards in the Annapurna Region in October. Similarly, closure of casinos and travel advisory to European visitors by the European Commission not to use Nepali airlines also affected tourist arrivals, according to tourism entrepreneurs.
Issuing a statement, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) said Nepal observed a sustained growth in international tourist arrivals in January, February, April and May but suffered a fall from June onwards. “The decline suggests that Nepal needs to promote its tourism products in the international market more aggressively in order to increase tourist arrivals,” the statement added.
Arrivals from India increased by fell by 35.46 percent to 105,283. However, number of tourists from China increased by 17.86 percent to 71,107 in 2014.