NEPAL AIRLINES : Flying High

With nearly a decade of controversy and scandal, Nepal Airlines, the country's only national flag carrier, is finally set to fly high

July 14, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -3 July 12- 2013 (Ashad 28, 2070)

Just a day before celebrating its 55 years of service, Nepal Airlines signed two agreements. The first agreement was with the Employees Provident Fund for a loan to purchase two aircraft from Airbus. Nepal Airlines management signed another agreement the next day with Airbus for supply two narrow body aircraft to Nepal Airlines.

Struggling for almost two decades without the new aircraft, Nepal Airlines, which used to share tourist market of over 50 percent, has made enormous contributions to increase the number of tourists in Nepal as well as serving the people living in remote parts of Nepal.

Unlike in previous years, this 56th anniversary of Nepal Airlines was celebrated in a more jubilant mood and there was enthusiasm among the employees and management. Following the signing of the agreements to purchase two narrow body Airbus 320-200, Nepal Airlines has got a new lease of life.

Due to frequent technical problems in its two ageing Boeing 757 Aircraft, Nepal Airlines’ international route was seeing regular disturbances. Although Nepal Airlines has already suspended its flight to Shanghai, New Delhi and Mumbai, it is currently struggling to keep its flight to Bangkok, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Dubai.

"After signing the agreements, there is enthusiasm among the airlines staff. Employees have been very supportive to the management to improve our services. The employees are also supportive to the reforms initiated my management," said Madan Kharel, General Manager of the NAC. "Given the present situation, Nepal Airlines will definitely make a difference in Nepal's tourism sector."

Others too agreed. "Two wide body aircraft will return the Nepal Airlines to profitable stage," said Sushil Ghimire, secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. “Signing of the purchase agreement recently for two narrow body aircraft with Airbus will further enhance its national flights. But it also needs to add few more aircraft for long haul flights."

Employee also stressed the need to have wide body aircraft to make NAC profitable."Along with the purchase agreement with Airbus, NAC should also look forward to starting its operation to the US and Australia and restart its flight to Shanghai and Frankfurt," said Krishna Bikram Chetri, president of NAC Pilot Association.

NAC is now planning to bring two aircraft on lease by the end of 2013 and to add two MA-60 and four Y-12 aircraft from China. If the plan goes as scheduled, Nepal once again will see the rise of national air carrier in all sectors.

On July 3, Nepal Airlines Corporation requested to Nepal Rastra Bank to release six percent of the catalogue price as the first installment of price on July 4.

"Once we receive permission from the central bank to issue foreign currency for the permit, we will send the money to Airbus," said Ganesh Bahadur Chand

In 1990, Nepal Airlines had two Boeing 757 Aircraft, two Boeing 727 aircraft, 10 twin otters and three HS-748 Avro and three Pilatus Porters. Established fifty six years ago with DC 3, Nepal Airlines has seen many ups and downs in its history. The message of the 56th anniversary was clear. The airlines management and employees have expressed solidarity that they will return the NA to its glorious days as in the past serving more Nepalese as well as bringing more tourists in the country.

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