KATHMANDU, June 29: Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has taken delivery of the first of two ordered Airbus A330-200 series aircraft. The aircraft landed at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu at 8 am on Thursday.
“We have inducted a wide-body aircraft in our fleet for the first time in NAC’s history,” Sugat Ratna Kansakar, managing director of the NAC, told Republica. “This aircraft will make short haul flights initially for three months and fly to long-haul destination after that,” added Kansakar.
NAC has named the aircraft ‘Annapurna’, while Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has assigned ‘9N-ALY’ call-sign to the aircraft.
The A330-200 series aircraft has 274 seats -- 18 seats in business class and 256 seats in economy class.
A 12-member team of the NAC, including Kansakar, had gone to Toulouse, France to take delivery of the aircraft. It took nine hours for the new aircraft to arrive Kathmandu from Toulouse. This is the first of the two wide-body aircraft that the NAC is purchasing. According to NAC officials, the second aircraft is scheduled to arrive in next one and half months.
NAC is procuring the aircraft from American company AAR Corp. NAC has borrowed funds from Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Citizen Investment Trust (CIT) to finance purchase of the two planes.
Earlier in April last year, the government had decided to stand as a guarantor for NAC, paving the way for the state-owned carrier to borrow Rs 25 billion to buy two wide-body aircraft. Following the government decision, NAC had signed loan agreements with the EPF and CIT to borrow a total of Rs 25 billion.
NAC plans to press the aircraft into commercial service in next two to four weeks. “It has been almost certain that the maiden flight of the aircraft will be to Dubai of United Arab Emirates,” said Kansakar.
NAC has already arranged six pilots to fly the wide-body jets, while more pilots are still under training. Around 28 to 30 pilots will be needed to operate two wide-body aircraft, according to NAC officials.
AAR Corporation, an American aviation support company, had signed agreement with the NAC in April 2016 to supply two aircraft to the national flag carrier. The NAC had sent $1 million to AAR Corporation as advance payment.
NAC plans to use the wide-body jets to fly to China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Europe and the US, among other international destinations.