Yeti Group swaying Nepal’s power centers with money and influence « Khabarhub
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Yeti Group swaying Nepal’s power centers with money and influence



Nepal’s Yeti Airlines hit the global headlines yet again following the crash of ATR 72 on 15 January 2023 in a gorge near Pokhara International Airport.

The tragic incident led to the death of all 72 onboard, including four crew members and 68 passengers, which included three infants and three children.

Investigation into the crash is underway to identify the cause of Nepal’s deadliest air disaster in decades.

A five-member probe committee has been formed to investigate the cause of the crash of aircraft 9N-ANC and prepare a report within 45 days.

However, people still doubt the independence of the investigation as most of the previous probe reports have gathered dust, and the authorities have done nothing concrete to avert any such disasters in the future.

How the Airlines Flight 961 crashed even in good weather, or why aircraft of the same company encountering such accidents in Nepal, has remained unclear.

With the latest January 15 crash, the number of crashes surrounding this company in Nepal has reached 14, including 8 Yeti Airlines and 6 Tara Air, in the last 24 years.

It may be recalled that Yeti Group’s Tara Air 9N AET Twin Otter crashed in Mustang district seven months ago killing 22 people on board.

The company, meanwhile, has very close ties with CAAN and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.

Observers believe that they are still immune to inspections and conduct several reviews after every accident.

The Yeti Group has so far made investments in dozens of businesses, including hotels and resorts, travel agencies, trekking companies, supermarkets, and hydropower.

It’s been said that Yeti Airlines boasts of “connection with power centers” in Nepal since its foundation 24 years ago because of which air safety groups suspect that Yeti Airlines has created its niche among the powerful circle in Nepal making it difficult for a thorough investigation.

What is even more interesting is that the owners of Yeti Airlines, identified as Yeti Group, own other businesses as well, including aviation, hospitality, and other sectors.

Dubbed one of the most powerful business groups in Nepal, it has maintained a close personal relationship with Nepal’s powerful political, judicial, and bureaucratic leadership.

It is to be noted that the Yeti Group conglomerate has served as a fixer for many political leaders in Nepal.

Meanwhile, the Group had also provided its building in Dhumbarahi, Ring Road in Kathmandu for the CPN-UML party.

This successful venture was established by three Sherpa brothers – Lhakpa Sonam Sherpa, Ang Tshiring Sherpa and Tendi Sherpa – who were earlier involved in mountain climbing as porters carrying heavy loads, and tour guides.

Even though they were born into a poor family in Solukhumbu, they succeeded in opening the Thamsherku Trek three decades ago making it their initial business journey.

Currently, Lhakpa Sonam Sherpa, Chairman of Yeti Airlines, leads the entire group of businesses after two of his brothers — Ang Tshiring Sherpa and Tendi Sherpa – died in a plane crash.

Despite beginning their career as porters, these three Sherpa brothers succeeded in amassing wealth, fame and fortune in Nepal within a few years in the aviation and hospitality sectors.

All three Sherpa brothers have 2 sons each and all six are involved in operating the business empire as a family business.

The Yeti Group owns two helicopter companies — Air Dynasty and Altitude Air, which are doing good business. Meanwhile, the Yeti incentive has General Sales Agent (GSA) in several international airlines.

Ang Tshiring Sherpa, the mastermind for the Group’s success, died in a helicopter crash on February 27, 2019.

He had very close personal ties with the Chairman of the CPN-UML and the then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.

Oli embarked on an official state visit to Beijing in June 2018 using the Group’s Himalaya Airlines instead of Nepal Airlines, Nepal’s national flag carrier.

Another brother Tendi Sherpa died in a helicopter crash in 1998. Lhakpa Sonam, however, survived a helicopter accident.

He was rescued safely after an Air Dynasty helicopter crashed at Lukla Airport.

The Group is thriving in the open market system of Nepal following the restoration of multi-party democracy in 1990 after the historic People’s Movement.

Until then, a handful of royalists controlled the country’s entire economy during the Panchayat regime ruled directly by the kings.

The Sherpa brothers succeeded in building personal relationships with Nepal’s powerful politicians and cultivated their relationships to expand their business.

Their tireless effort in the last 25 years has yielded good results while making the Group’s property over worth Rs 80 billion.

It has so far made investments in dozens of businesses, including hotels and resorts, travel agencies, trekking companies, supermarkets, and hydropower.

Then Prime Minister Oli even appointed one of the Group owners as Nepal’s Ambassador to Spain, and appointed individuals having good ties with the Group in different significant state agencies, including the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA).

In 2009, Yeti Airlines successfully established the subsidiary Tara Air to target Nepal’s mountainous areas.

It also has a major share in international airlines, Himalaya Airlines, a joint venture with Chinese Tibet Airlines.

The Yeti Group owns two helicopter companies — Air Dynasty and Altitude Air, which are doing good business. Meanwhile, the Yeti incentive has General Sales Agent (GSA) in several international airlines.

Currently, the Yeti Holding Company has three dozen companies, including the Thamserku Expedition, Yeti Adventure, Kora Tours, Yeti Holidays, and several travel agencies and hotels in Nepal’s popular trekking routes.

It operates 6 hotels in the Everest region, 5 hotels in the Annapurna region, Gokarna Forest Resort in Kathmandu, Kasara Resort in Chitwan, and Hoke Resort in Lumbini, to name a few.

It may be recalled that the then Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari was also killed along with Ang Tsering Sherpa in a Dynasty Airlines crash in Taplejung district in February 2019.

It’s still a mystery as to why late tourism minister Adhikari personally flew to Terhathum to assess the feasibility of Chuhandanda Airport.

Meanwhile, the two-thirds majority government led by the then Prime Minister Oli proved to be an advantage for the Yeti Group to expand its business, including leasing the government land and property.

The then government provided various government properties on lease to the Group, which also succeeded in getting the contract of the prime location property of Nepal Trust in Durbar Marga, Kathmandu.

In yet another incident, the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of the Nepal Police, arrested several pilots on the charge of using fake certificates of the Intermediate level to pursue aviation courses.

The Company grabbed hundreds of hectares of government land and property across the country worth billions at very cheap prices.

The Group also succeeded in getting most of the property of the former Royal Palace.

The then government also permitted the Group to operate a business inside the Sagarmatha National Park, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Then Prime Minister Oli even appointed one of the Group owners as Nepal’s Ambassador to Spain, and appointed individuals having good ties with the Group in different significant state agencies, including the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA).

All these signify that Yeti Group has been a powerful entity having a deep-rooted connection with power centers.

In yet another incident, the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of the Nepal Police, arrested several pilots on the charge of using fake certificates of the Intermediate level to pursue aviation courses.

However, when police identified one of Yeti Airlines’ close relatives was also involved in the case, the then CIB Chief Nabaraj Silwal dismissed the case.

In another such case, Nepal Police arrested one of the Yeti Group owners in various drug trafficking, including brown heroin in February 2020.

However, he was released after a few months. Despite being implicated in several cases, Yeti Group’s connection with senior political leadership has been advantageous to further expanding and thriving its business in Nepal.

Publish Date : 23 January 2023 15:06 PM

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