Money

Nepal Airlines grounds Chinese-made planes for lack of instructor pilot

  • The state-owned carrier is losing millions of rupees
- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Apr 21, 2019-

All four Chinese-made Y12e and one MA60 planes of Nepal Airlines has been grounded for a long time, causing the state-owned carrier millions in losses.

According to Nepal Airlines Corporation officials, three airworthy 17-seater Y12e aircraft has been grounded due to the lack of instructor pilots. Meanwhile, one Y12e and an MA60 have been grounded for maintenance.

Troubled started after sole instructor pilot of Y12e Ang Noori Sherpa, who was sent to China for training returned and tendered his resignation two weeks ago. He then flew to the United States. The corporation has not been able to take action against Sherpa although he violated the contract agreement.

Sherpa’s resignation has grounded two Y12e captains Nripendra Bhattarai and Sanjay Bade Shrestha as they have not been able to fly aircraft without the renewal of their pilot proficiency check by the instructor pilot. Airline pilots must undergo proficiency checks every six months that are conducted by the instructor pilot.

Sherpa’s resignation has also affected captains Phizonath Nepali and KB Limbu from acquiring a type rating, a certification specifically to fly a particular type of aircraft.  A type rating is a regulating agency’s certification of an aircraft pilot to fly a certain aircraft type that requires additional training.

According to Madan Kharel, executive chairman of Nepal Airlines Corporation, Limbu had been hired to fly the Y12e aircraft but has been sitting idle. “Although we have hired Nepali, who is currently working at Sita Air, he will not be paid as there is a condition that he has to renew his flying licence.”

“We have been looking for instructor pilots in the Philippines and Togo where this type of plane fly,” he said. “It may be expensive to hire them but we don’t have an alternative.” According to Kharel, they have been in talks with Sherpa but he has been demanding a monthly pay of Rs1.4 million. “As he plans to come to Nepal on Monday, we will hold talks to retain him.” He, however, said one MA60 aircraft which has been grounded for maintenance would fly soon.

In 2014, when the first batch of two 17-seater Y12e aircraft arrived in Kathmandu, they remained grounded for more than two months due to lack of pilots. The corporation received another two Y12e aircraft in February last year.

The 56th annual audit report of the Office of Auditor General released recently has said that the corporation had been operating its Chinese-made Y12e and MA60 aircraft ineffectively and incurring heavy losses from them.

The audit report said that the Chinese-made MA60 aircraft made an income of Rs206 million this fiscal year. However, its operating and other indirect expenses were Rs313 million and Rs212 million respectively, incurring total losses worth Rs316.4 million annually.

Similarly, from the Y12e, the corporation earned Rs25 million in income this year. However, its operating and indirect expenditure were Rs188.5 million and Rs96.3 million respectively. In total, losses from the Y12e operation stood at Rs289.7 million this year.

Last fiscal year, losses from MA60 aircraft had amounted to Rs66.7 million, while losses from Y12e amounted to Rs39.4 million. Last year, the audit pointed out that the corporation did not seem to have made a solid working plan to operate these aircraft at a profit. This year’s report said that nothing has changed despite the audit’s recommendation given last year.

Published: 21-04-2019 09:53

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