June 26, 2017 12:50 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, June 26: Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has launched an investigation into the national flag carrier' decision to purchase two wide-body aircraft.
A source at the CIAA says that the constitutional anti-graft body launched preliminary investigation into the case on the basis of a complaint filed at its office. The complaint is against why Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) decided to procure second-hard aircraft instead of buying new aircraft. “The plaintiff has suspected massive corruption behind the decision to buy used aircraft,” the source added.
CIAA Spokesperson Jib Raj Koirala told Republica that preliminary investigation has been started. “We will start in-depth investigation if suspects are validated after the preliminary investigation,” he added.
He refused to divulge details of the case, stating that investigation is at the early stage.
CIAA recently asked the national flag carrier to furnish details of the multi-billion-rupee agreement to buy two Airbus A330-200 aircraft. It is still to get answer from the NAC.
In its tender notice, NAC had invited bids to supply two wide-body planes of A330-200 series. In the notice, NAC had said that it would accept aircraft that have flown a maximum of 1,000 hours.
NAC has already signed purchase agreement with US-based AAR Corp to procure two wide-body planes for US$ 209 million. The national flag carrier has already sent first installment of Rs 8 billion to AAR Corp.
Talking to Republica, NAC Managing Director Sugat Ratna Kansakar claimed that there was enough competition among ten companies from six countries in the bidding process. “We put the maximum 1,000 hours criteria to get competitive price. But the lowest bidder came with a proposal to supply brand new aircraft. The issue of second-hand aircraft exists no more,” he added.
Kansakar further added that the CIAA had initially asked the national flag carrier why it was not procuring new aircraft. “We have responded to the CIAA's queries and the latter is convinced by our response,” added Kansakar.
Once the two aircraft joins the national carrier's fleet by March, 2018, NAC will have five aircraft for international flight operation. NAC plans to fly the wide-body jets to long-haul destinations in South Korea, Japan, Australia and Saudi Arabia.