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NAC to bid farewell to last of its Boeings

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu
When the vintage Gandaki, the last of NAC’s four Boeings, flies off into the sunset, it will mark the end of the Boeing era in Nepal that began nearly five decades ago

May 11, 2018-Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has initiated the process of retiring its second Boeing 757 after selling off the first one last December.

When the vintage Gandaki bearing registration number 9N-ACB, the last of NAC’s four Boeings, flies off into the sunset, it will mark the end of the Boeing era in Nepal that began nearly five decades ago.

NAC spokesperson Rabindra Shrestha said that the corporation had also decided to sell all the spare parts and avionic equipment as it would now have an all-Airbus fleet. On Tuesday, the state-owned national flag carrier issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a full appraisal of the Boeing 757-200 Gandaki including spare parts and tools.

During an appraisal, the value of the aircraft that will be purchased or sold is assessed. Shrestha said that after the assessor submits the appraisal report, the value of the aircraft will be ascertained. “It will then be put up for auction after setting a minimum price.” 

The corporation has targeted sending off the Boeing 757 by mid-2019, said Shrestha. “Two Airbus A330s are scheduled to arrive in June and July respectively as replacements for the two 757s.”

The first 757 was sold to Bhawan Bhatta, managing director of BB Airways, for $1.46 million in December last year.

NAC entered the jet age in 1972 when it acquired a Boeing 727 and sent Nepali spirits aloft. People would rush to their roof-tops to watch in awe as the sleek craft came in screaming from beyond the hills. Carrying 123 passengers, it connected Kathmandu with regional destinations and remained in service till 1993.

The first Boeing 757, named Karnali and bearing registration number 9N-ACA, arrived in 1987. Gandaki was delivered in September 1988 and is of the combi variety with a forward cargo hatch. The 757 holds 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.

NAC moved to sell off its two 757s as it was no longer profitable to fly them due to their high maintenance costs compared to the revenue they bring in, airline officials said. Each of NAC’s Boeings earns about Rs2 billion annually, and it costs the carrier almost the same in maintenance expenses.

The plane’s high fuel consumption is another matter of concern for the state-owned airline. According to Shrestha, the Boeing 757 burns 4 tonnes of fuel per hour, compared to 2.5 tonnes for the new Airbus A320 aircraft. The corporation currently possesses two 158-seater A320 jets which were delivered in 2015. Shrestha said the management was also mulling to add two more A320 aircraft in the fleet in the near future.

Nepal Airlines recorded a meagre 1.04 percent growth in passenger traffic after the carrier put one of its two Boeing 757s up for auction last year. It flew 388,329 passengers during the review period.

Published: 11-05-2018 09:09

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