Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
Drunk flying

The Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation has begun its investigation of Captain Kundan Giri, who is accused of flying under the influence of alcohol. The investigation was begun after JS Coloon, a passenger aboard RNAC's 757 flying in from Hong Kong to Kathmandu on 1 November 2001, sent the corporation emails last week accusing Giri of drinking hard liquor on duty and misbehaving. The investigation was discussed last Thursday by the corporation's department heads. Captain DMS Rajbhandari, head of the corporate department, said Giri would be asked for an explanation. The investigation will be conducted under the supervision of the head of operations, MD Lama.

Coloon says that right after he had bid goodbye to his family at Hong Kong's international airport and was awaiting his flight to Nepal, where he had planed a vacation, he saw Captain Giri drinking hard liquor in the airport restaurant. The email goes on to say, " At first I didn't realise that the person in uniform drinking was a pilot. Then, as we were boarding the plane, we saw the person enter the cockpit swaying and shouting in his native language. My wife got afraid and when we asked the cabin attendant, we found out that his name was Kundan Giri and that he was a prominent pilot with RNAC. The attendant said Giri would not be flying the plane." The email further says, "Even then, we were very scared, and when we arrived in Kathmandu the captain was still walking around drunk and shouting. We have flown on many distinguished and reputed airlines, and after that incident we did not want to return home on RNAC. We made up our minds to never fly on RNAC."

That particular flight had over one hundred passengers including the director general of the Civil Aviation Authority Medani Sharma, Capt NJ Shrestha, Capt Shukra Rana, and Capt Santosh Sharma. A Nepali passenger aboard the flight also said that Capt Giri probably was under the influence of alcohol. Under the rules of the International Civil Aviation Authority, a pilot cannot fly for six hours after consuming alcohol or other intoxicants. The concerned country's civil aviation authority has the right to take action against the offender and even ground him if need be.

Capt Giri claims there is no truth in the accusation. He told Rajdhani, " I too have received that email. It tarnishes not just my image, but that of the entire corporation. If I am guilty there should be strict action, otherwise whoever made this up should be brought to trial." According to Giri, certain department heads and pilots of the RNAC, appointed under pressure from the Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Balbahdur KC, are conspiring against him. Sources at the RNAC say that Giri was appointed assistant director of the corporation a year ago on the recommendation of Home Minister Khum Bahadur Khadka and former Foreign Minister Chakra Prasad Bastola.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)