NAC to take delivery of Chinese planes, finallyNepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) will be receiving two Chinese aircraft for its domestic fleet by next week, two years after their delivery was confirmed.
Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) will be receiving two Chinese aircraft for its domestic fleet by next week, two years after their delivery was confirmed.
An NAC team led by Poshak Gnawali, director of the Engineering Maintenance Department, left for China on Sunday to take delivery of a 56-seater MA60 and a 17-seater Y12e. Their delivery had been stalled after issues appeared in the first batch of planes that arrived in 2014. Officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) will be accompanying the NAC delegation to inspect the aircraft before their delivery.
“We expect the planes to arrive in Nepal within the next 10 days,” said Sugat Ratna Kansakar, managing director of NAC. He added that the corporation had prepared pilots to fly the aircraft. “The remaining two Y12e will arrive in the near future.”
In November 2013, the Cabinet gave the go-ahead to the government to sign loan and grant agreements with China to procure six aircraft to enhance the domestic fleet of the national flag carrier. China has provided one MA60 and one Y12e worth Rs2.94 billion as gifts. The other aircraft are being bought with a soft loan of Rs3.72 billion provided by China’s EXIM Bank.
The aircraft delivery process had been put on hold for the last two years after NAC reported many problems, including load restrictions, in the two that have joined its fleet. The manufacturer completed assembling the three Y12e for Nepal in early 2015. The aircraft, bearing NAC livery and Nepali registration numbers, have been sitting in the factory hangar since then.
NAC moved to revive the deal following instructions from the Tourism Ministry last October. It had been given wide leeway in proceeding with the order.
The national flag carrier had been mandated to review the commercial air service agreement signed in November 2012 with the aircraft supplier AVIC International Holding Corporation of China.
The MA60 Nepal received as a gift from China arrived in Kathmandu in April 2014. It has been operating with a load restriction on trunk routes. Another Chinese-gifted aircraft, the Y12e, landed in Kathmandu in November 2014. It can be used to serve remote airfields like Lukla, Jomsom, Manang, Simikot, Rara, Jumla and Dolpa with a load restriction.
NAC saw the strongest passenger growth after it received the two Chinese-made aircraft in 2014. According to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Nepal Airlines passenger occupancy on domestic routes swelled 69.87 percent to 34,978 in 2014.
In the first nine months of 2016, it carried 28,716 passengers, up 6.67 percent compared to the same period in the previous year.