Nepal Airlines’ last Boeing awaits a buyer, but there are none forthcomingAfter two separate auction notices failed to find a buyer, Nepal Airlines Corporation has now decided to go into direct negotiations.
Nepal Airlines’ last Boeing 757, which served the flag carrier for 31 years, has been sitting at the Tribhuvan International Airport for eight months now, accumulating airport parking taxes while awaiting a buyer.
Nepal Airlines Corporation has now decided to issue a notice for direct negotiations for the sale of the vintage 757 after there were no takers despite two separate auction notices.
On June 26, the national flag carrier had put the 757 named Gandaki, with registration number 9N-ACB, and its spare parts up for auction. Two bidders had shown interest in buying the plane. However, one bidder was disqualified as it did not provide its name on the bid document while the rate quoted by another bidder was below auction price.
Another notice was issued on August 14. This time too, two bidders applied, but one applied to buy just the spare parts while the price offered by another was way below the auction rate, the Nepal Airlines management said.
“We have now decided to issue a notice for direct negotiations for the sale of the aircraft,” said Madan Kharel, executive chairman of Nepal Airlines Corporation. “We are preparing guidelines for selling the plane through negotiations. They will be completed this week.”
Kharel said that the aircraft has been causing a financial burden for the corporation as it has been sitting at Tribhuvan International Airport since February-end. Parking fee at the airport is $500 a day, which means that Gandaki has so far accumulated around $120,000 in parking fees alone.
The state-owned carrier has also put up the plane’s spare parts for sale as it now has an all-Airbus fleet.
The national flag carrier had set the minimum sale price at $7.8 million for the 9N-ACB Boeing and its spare parts. The jet is valued at $5.4 million, out of the total sale price, the carrier said.
This Boeing auction is also turning into a similar story of the first jet sold in 2017.
In April 2017, Nepal Airlines had put its first Boeing 757, named Karnali and bearing registration number 9N-ACA, up for sale with a minimum price of $1.71 million. The auction value of 9N-ACB is more than four times higher because the aircraft is still airworthy. Nepal Airlines officials said that the airworthiness of the jet will expire by February next year.
However, there were no takers even after publishing two consecutive auction notices.
Nepal Airlines then issued a notice in June 2017 for direct negotiations for the sale of the 757. Still, nobody came forward. It was only when the carrier lowered the price to $1.46 million that several companies approached Nepal Airlines to hold negotiations.
In the end, the carrier sold Karnali to Bhaban Bhatta, managing director of BB Airways, for $1.46 million in December 2017. However, that sale ignited controversy after an American company, one of the firms that participated in the negotiation, filed a complaint claiming that Nepal Airlines had violated due process while selecting the purchasing company.
“In 2017, the first Boeing 757 was sold after finalising the price via negotiations, this time, we have decided to make the process transparent,” said Kharel.
When Gandaki is finally sold and the aircraft flies off into the sunset, it will mark the end of the Boeing era, which began nearly five decades ago and saw Nepal Airlines reach its zenith.
The 9N-ACB joined the fleet of the then Royal Nepal Airlines in September 1988. This special Combi model is capable of seating passengers while also carrying two pallets of cargo. According to Nepal Airlines, Gandaki’s frame is the only pure 757 Combi built by Boeing. The 757 can hold 190 passengers. It is a mid-sized, narrow-body twin-engine jet built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It was in production from 1981 to 2004.
The national flag carrier wanted to put up its last Boeing for auction immediately after the arrival of the Airbus A330s last year, but it dropped the plan following allegations of financial irregularities in the purchase of the Airbus wide-body jets.
Nepal Airlines decided to sell off its two 757s as it was no longer profitable to fly them due to their high maintenance costs when compared to the revenue they bring in.