July 31: Nepal Airlines Corporation (NSC) has formally stopped the operation of Chinese aircraft for domestic flights from Thursday (July 30).
Due to its failure to operate the six Chinese aircraft due to high cost and maintenance as well as other factors, a board meeting of the state-owned airline company had earlier decided to permanently ground the aircraft effective from July 30.
The NAC board has been heavily criticized for purchasing the aircraft under political pressure without conducting proper assessment.
NAC’s stake in the domestic market is currently 3 percent, which is expected to shrink further after grounding the China-made aircraft.
The government has already decided to resume domestic and international flights from August 17. But the state-owned company now doesn’t have adequate aircraft for domestic flights.
After grounding the six aircraft, NAC now has just three Twin Otters left in its fleet for internal flights. One of them is currently being repaired to the NAC is in a position to operate only two aircraft at the moment.
NAC Spokesperson Archana Khadka informed that the flag carrier of Nepal will use these two aircraft for domestic flights for the time being.
“NAC has formally decided to ground all the Chinese aircraft for domestic flights. Now we will utilize the Twin Otters for domestic flight,” said Khadka.
NAC stated that the Twin Otters with seat capacity of 17 to 19 passengers will provide service to remote areas of the country. However, NAC will not be operating any flights in the main trunk routes with high number of passengers. NAC had been operating the Chinese aircraft in trunk routes like Bhairahawa, Pokhara, Nepalgunj, Dhangadhi, Simara, Biratnagar and Chandragadhi.
Private companies have been dominating the domestic flight service in the country. Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines and Shree Airlines have strong hold in the domestic flight routes.
NAC Spokesperson Khadka informed that the company is discussing about procuring new aircraft after it sells off the Chinese planes.
NAC had to face losses worth Rs 2.3 billion while operating the Chinese aircraft during the last five years.