NAC agrees to airlift fuel for five more daysAs fear looms of domestic airlines facing closure due to the shortage of aviation fuel, the Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has agreed to airlift fuel for five more days.
As fear looms of domestic airlines facing closure due to the shortage of aviation fuel, the Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has agreed to airlift fuel for five more days.
However, after five days, the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has to find an alternative to source the fuel for domestic carriers.
An emergency meeting was held at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies on Friday to find ways to deal with the crisis.
Pradip Kumar Yadav, aviation fuel in-charge of the NOC, said in the meeting that the NAC agreed to airlift fuel by at least three flights a day; each flight can defuel 18 tonnes fuel. He said they currently have 140 kilolitres aviation fuel in stock which can last for three days.
An alternative to NAC, Yadav said, Petromax Nepal would be airlifting fuel to Kathmandu. The company was awarded the contract to airlift 400 kilolitre fuel for 15 days on Monday. “Petromax opened the letter of credit to import aviation fuel on Friday,” he said, adding that the company would start supplying fuel within three to four days.
Initially, Petromax Nepal had planned airlifting fuel through Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 777. However, the Tribhuvan International Airlines (TIA) had refused to permit its landing due to its large size.
Consequently, the airport authority on Friday approved Jordan Aviation’s Boeing 767 slot at the airport that Petromax Nepal would be using to airlift the fuel.
The TIA officials said that the airline’s Kathmandu-Kolkata-Kathmandu and Kathmandu-Dhaka-Kathm-andu routes have been approved.
However, with the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) formally opening investigations into the NOC’s contract awarding process, sources said it could be a setback for the company’s plan.
The PAC has directed the NOC to submit all details related to the contract it had signed with the suppliers amid fresh controversy that another company—Birat Petroleum—appointed by the corporation to import petroleum products was blacklisted three years ago.
Yadav said that the investigation should continue, but it should not affect the Petromax’s plan to supply fuel.
The national flag carrier has been airlifting aviation fuel since October 15 after India imposed an unofficial trade embargo that has halted shipments by land. Since then, the corporation has made 35 chartered flights to Kolkata to airlift fuel.
Still, worries among domestic carriers remain as the NAC reduced its flights on Thursday and Friday.
On Thursday, it made two flights and subsequently reduced it to a single flight on Friday.
According to the NAC officials, it is facing difficulties conducting charter flights as well as maintaining its scheduled flights due to a shortage of Boeing 757s pilots. Most of the pilots are on their periodic simulator test abroad.
Meanwhile, the NOC’s request to domestic airlines to cut their flights down by 50 percent to save the depleting fuel stock has been turned down.