NAC told to go ahead with fleet expansion

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 25, 2015-

Newly-appointed Tourism Minister Aananda Prasad Pokharel has asked Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) to proceed with its plan to acquire new jets for its fleet, and promised to table its proposal in the Cabinet as soon as it is ready.

Speaking during an inspection visit to NAC on Tuesday, Pokharel asked the national flag carrier to assess its fleet requirement and submit a proposal to the ministry. “Air connectivity is vital for a landlocked country like Nepal. If NAC had a sufficient number of jets, the current crisis would not have been so severe,” he said.

“As NAC needs to expand its fleet and develop its human resources simultaneously, the ministry is ready to help the corporation in all aspects.”

NAC had informed the minister that it was preparing to buy two wide-body aircraft in the near future. This year, the national flag carrier took delivery of two new Airbus A320 aircraft, boosting its fleet to four jets including two ageing Boeing 757s.

“As there has been a huge rise in travel demand, NAC’s current fleet is inadequate to fulfil the requirement,” said Ram Hari Sharma, spokesperson of NAC. “We need two wide-body jets for long-haul destinations immediately.”

Recently, Tourism Secretary Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, who also chairs the NAC board, had directed the corporation to submit a concrete report on purchasing at least eight fixed-wing and four rotor-wing aircraft and hiring the required workforce.

The eight planes are planned to be used for domestic and international operations while the helicopters will serve remote destinations. Thapaliya has instructed the corporation to submit the aircraft purchase plan report within a month.

The national flag carrier has been told to study the feasibility of procuring two wide-body and two narrow-body aircraft for the international sector.

With regard to domestic operations, the airline has been instructed to buy four Twin Otters or similar aircraft and study the viability of operating four helicopters on remote sectors.

“As the public has high expectations from the national flag carrier, it should be ready to provide efficient services that passengers pay for,” Thapaliya said on Tuesday.

NAC’s 10-year business plan (2014-24) has proposed procuring four wide-body and five narrow-body jets, including the recently purchased A320, for use on long-haul routes like Europe, Australia and the US besides Asia.

Presently, NAC holds a meagre 5.87 percent share of the market in the international segment. It flew 206,430 passengers last year.

The carrier serves seven international destinations, including three Indian cities, and plans to expand operations to three more destinations, namely Guangzhou, Dubai and Saudi Arabia in the near future.

Published: 25-11-2015 09:19

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