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Grounded NAC plane likely to resume flights on Thursday

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Feb 22, 2018-

A grounded Airbus aircraft of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) is expected to resume service on Thursday as its damaged engine has been replaced.

NAC’s Managing Director Sugat Ratna Kansakar said that the Airbus A320, bearing registration number 9N-AKW and named Sagarmatha, will be flown back to Nepal on Thursday after repairs in Singapore.

The jet has been out of service for nearly two months after one of its two engines was damaged.

“We have leased the engine for $150,000 per month from a leasing company,” Kansakar said, adding that they could not say how many days or months it will take for the damaged engine to be repaired.

According to him, they have decided to send the engine to New Zealand for repairs as it cannot be done in Singapore. “As we do not know how the engine has been damaged, we cannot say how how long it will take or how much it will cost to have it fixed.”

The Airbus suffered engine failure on December 25, and was grounded for a long time at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India. On February 8, it was flown to Singapore from New Delhi to get its engine replaced.

NAC’s brand new jet arrived at Tribhuvan International Airport in February 2015. Officials at the Tourism Ministry said that NAC was expected to incur huge losses as the management failed to bring the aircraft back into operation.

“The aircraft has been out of service for 56 days. Such problems should be sorted out within a week,” said ministry officials. “Even after all that time, NAC does not know the cost of repairing the engine and how long it will take,” they said. “It is not even sure whether the engine can be repaired at all.” 

The national flag carrier has been losing revenues of nearly Rs100 million monthly. The figure has been computed on the basis of the estimated annual income of Rs1.2 billion for each of NAC’s aircraft.

Apart from lost revenue, landing and parking charges, the cost of repairing the damaged engine and the rental for a replacement engine will push up NAC’s losses. Total losses are expected to be in the millions, sources privy to the matter said. As such problems might occur again, the national flag carrier said it had been preparing to invite bids for a ‘power by the hour’ programme that will allow it to accurately forecast costs and free it from purchasing engines and accessories.

The ‘power by the hour’ is a new concept. It’s akin to insurance that protects the lessee from unexpected costs of premature engine failure. NAC will have to pay for the service on an installment basis.

Team to visit Toulouse

A Nepal Airlines Corporation team is scheduled to visit the Airbus plant in Toulouse, France next month to inspect the jets it has ordered from Hi Fly X, a leasing company based in Ireland.

According to NAC, the first of the two planes is expected to arrive in Nepal in May, and the second one by June.

The carrier has borrowed Rs24 billion from the Citizen Investment Trust (CIT) and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to buy the planes.

Published: 22-02-2018 08:42

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