NAC to add to its domestic fleet


KATHMANDU: Ailing Nepal Airlines Corporation plans to add new aircraft to its domestic fleet soon.

“NAC is planning to add two new aircraft with a capacity of 50 to 70 seats on trunk routes like Pokhara-Kathmandu,” Sugat Ratna Kansakar, NAC executive chairman, told The Himalayan Times today.

“A technical committee will be formed to prepare specifications of the aircraft,” he said, adding that the board will evaluate the report before purchasing new aircraft for the domestic fleet. “Some of the local banks are keen to finance the aircraft,” he added.

If economically feasible, NAC is also eyeing 10 to 20-seater aircraft to operate in small airports. “Smaller aircraft will suit small domestic airports. We can increase the frequency of flights,” Kansakar added.

NAC is operating only four of the seven DHC-6-Twin Otter aircraft with 19-seat capacity on domestic routes. “We’ll make that five in a month,” Kansakar said, adding that the decision on operating two others will be taken soon. “The board will decide whether to sell the two or operate them,” added the executive chairman, who got the executive powers after Supreme Court decided yesterday not to issue a stay order restraining him from exercising executive powers.Managing Director Capt Kul Bahadur has moved the SC seeking a stay order against the appointment of Kansakar as executive chairman. The government appointed Kansakar as executive chairman on July 26.

When Kansakar was NAC Managing Director in January, he had planned to add six aircraft to NAC’s international fleet. If everything goes as planned, NAC will have a new aircraft by the first half of 2010 for the international route. In next five years, NAC will have a fleet of six new aircraft.

NAC is operating two B-757 Boeing 757-200 aircraft — Karnali and Gandaki that have 190-seat capacity each — on the international routes. Erstwhile Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation had bought two Boeing 757: Karnali on lease in 1987 and Gandaki in 1988.

The government-owned airlines company may be able to add one narrow-body aircraft soon and a wide-body aircraft by October 2010.

After people’s movement in 1990, successive governments of the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML had leased the aircraft from Lauda Airlines and China South Western Airlines, with a fair share of controversy. NAC incurred an operating loss of around Rs 50 million in the last fiscal year due to unavailability of one of the aircraft and rising fuel prices. The new aircraft can give NAC a new lease of life.

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