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NAC takes delivery of two Chinese aircraft

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Feb 8, 2017-

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) formally received an MA60 and a Y-12e aircraft ordered from the manufacturer China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) on Wednesday.

AVIC Group Vice-President Gao Jianshe handed over the 56-seater and 17-seater planes to NAC Managing Director Sugat Ratna Kansakar amid a function in Kathmandu. The two aircraft are part of a six-aircraft deal signed between Nepal and China.

In 2014, China provided one MA60 and one Y12e worth Rs2.94 billion as gifts. However, the delivery of the rest of the planes were stalled after issues appeared in the first batch. NAC plans to bring another two Y-12e aircraft in the near future.

Responding to criticism that Chinese aircraft were performing poorly in Nepali skies, Tourism Minister Jeeban Bahadur Shahi said that the problem was not with the planes. “It was rather poor management on our part,” he said.

“The planes that arrived in 2014 had to be grounded on different occasions due to lack of spare parts and pilots to fly them. As these issues can occur again, I urge China to provide pilots and engineers for at least a year so we can fly the planes smoothly,” he said.

“We don’t want to see another headline in the papers saying that Chinese aircraft have been grounded again.” Minister Shahi said that flying Chinese aircraft successfully in the rugged terrain of Nepal would also be a marketing opportunity for the Chinese plane maker.  

Speaking on the occasion, Kansakar said that NAC had to face certain problems with the first batch of planes that arrived in 2014. “However, AVIC has now assured us that it will provide every help needed to fly these aircraft smoothly.”

He added that NAC would return to its vibrant self with the acquisition of wide body jets after not being able to expand its fleet for the past three decades. “We will have nine planes to serve domestic routes once we take delivery of the remaining two Chinese aircraft.”

Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong said that the six aircraft would greatly help to enhance the air service capacity of Nepal Airlines and promote the country’s tourism.

“As tourism is one of the pillars of Nepal’s economy and civil aviation is an important guarantee for the development of the tourism industry, the Chinese government and companies would like to further strengthen the cooperation with Nepal.”

The MA60 will be flown on NAC's Biratnagar, Pokhara, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj and Bhadrapur routes. The smaller Y12e will operate on remote sectors, including a number of tourist destinations.

With the planned delivery of another two Y-12e aircraft, the national flag carrier’s domestic fleet will swell to nine planes including three vintage Twin Otters.

During its heyday, NAC used to operate 18 aircraft -- 12 Twin Otters, three Avros and three Pilatus Porters -- to 42 stations across the country. The Canadian International Development Agency donated seven Twin Otters to NAC between 1972 and 1979.

Published: 08-02-2017 20:47

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