KATHMANDU: The Cabinet has given its approval for temporary relaxation of civil aviation rules, which will enable new and existing domestic carriers to start international operations sooner.

The government has temporarily revised a requirement for airlines to have five years of domestic operations to be eligible to fly overseas.

According to Tourism Ministry officials, after the approval of the guidelines, a 45-day notice will be issued inviting expressions of interest from prospective domestic airlines.

At least two passenger airlines and a cargo carrier will be granted licences after assessing their eligibility and required criteria, said Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane, joint secretary at the ministry.

Under the guidelines, the ministry has amended the categories of international licences and revised the paid-up capital requirement to establish new airlines.

The ministry issues three categories of airline licences: A, B and C. Under the old rules, a Class A licence is granted to airlines whose flights last longer than three hours, Class B to airlines whose flights last three hours, and Class C to carriers operating flights lasting less than three hours.

Under the proposed new policy, however, licences will be issued based on the weight of the aircraft. The ministry has proposed Class A licences for carriers flying aircraft having a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of more than 125 tonnes.

Class B licence will be issued to carriers flying aircraft with an MTOW of more than 40 tonnes, and a Class C licence will be issued to carriers flying aircraft with an MTOW of less than 40 tonnes.

Likewise, Class A airlines are required to have a paid-up capital of Rs1 billion, Class B Rs750 million and Class C Rs500 million, as per the revised terms of reference.

All new airlines are required to have at least three aircraft in their fleet. The airlines are required to increase their paid-up capital by Rs100 million for each aircraft they add to their fleet beyond the mandatory requirement of three aircraft, ministry officials said.

The proposed policy has set a licence fee of Rs5 million for scheduled passenger airlines, Rs3 million for cargo airlines and Rs2 million for helicopter services.