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France faces pilot strike as Euro 2016 gets underway

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PARIS — France was reveling in a victorious start to the Euro 2016 on Saturday after winning the opening match, but a strike by Air France pilots threatened to disrupt travel for hundreds of thousands of fans.

Police were on high alert in the southern city of Marseille, where England and Russia supporters clashed and hurled bottles at officers in a second night of violence before their first game.

Industrial unrest, fears of terrorist attacks and devastating flooding have overshadowed the buildup to the month-long tournament.

But football fans were in good spirits as more than 80,000 poured into the Stade de France in Paris for the opening match between France and Romania on Friday.

The packed stadium erupted with delight, while supporters watching in bars around the city cheered, when Dmitri Payet gave the host nation a stunning 25-metre goal to grab a last-gasp 2-1 victory.

President Francois Hollande hailed the “smooth” start to the tournament on Friday, despite a 10-day train strike that has caused travel disruption across France.

France needs the championships to be “a sporting success” but also “a big event for the people,” said Hollande, wearing a scarf in the national colours of red, white and blue.

Weeks of industrial action over government reforms to labour law had dampened the party atmosphere around the tournament, disrupting rail and metro services and leaving petrol pumps dry in many places.

Arriving fans have been confronted by stinking piles of rubbish left strewn on the streets of Paris and Marseille after strikers began blockading incineration plants.

The head of the CGT union Philippe Martinez, who is spearheading opposition to the labour market reforms being pushed by the government, has vowed not to be “blackmailed with the Euro”.

In another headache, Air France pilots will begin a four-day stoppage on Saturday, just as crowds of foreign fans are expected to begin arriving on French soil.

Air France CEO Frederic Gagey has promised that more than 80 percent of flights would operate.

AFP

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NAC aims to bring more tourists

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KATHMANDU — Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) — the national flag carrier which bought two wide-body aircrafts — is exploring new destinations in Europe, North America and South East Asia to bring in more tourists to the country.

The NAC, with the new destinations, expects to increase its business and carry 400,000 tourists on board the NAC planes to Nepal every year.

The NAC’s move is expected to serve largely for the government’s announcement to mark 2020 as Nepal Visit Year.

The NAC is also planning to procure narrow-body planes that would make regional flights while the wide-body planes would fly to the new international destinations.

For the new destinations, the NAC has appointed issue manager.

With the agreement, the NAC planes would make flights to 14 destinations in a week. If things go as planned, the NAC planes would fly to Narita and Tokyo in Japan, easing the tourists visiting Nepal from there.

After getting approval from Japan and South Korea for flights, the inclusion in the significant safety concern list by the EU to Nepal would remove automatically while the flights to South Korea shall open up the golden door for Nepal Airlines.

South Korea is regarded as the safest country in the world in terms of civil aviation. Likewise, the ICAO has already removed Nepal from its blacklist.

Furthermore, the NAC is preparing to operate flights to bring in tourists from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Similarly, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari has directed the NAC for announcing new business plans by targeting the Indian and Chinese tourists, realizing the crucial role of the national flag carrier to make the Nepal Visit Year 2020 a success.

“Top priority has been given to the NAC as it is the major basis to bring in tourists,” Minister Adhikari shared.

Likewise, Minister Adhikari shared that expansion of services and facilities of the Tribhuvan International Airport has been prioritized.

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