KATHMANDU, July 26: The second Airbus A330-200 aircraft ordered by Nepal Airlines Corporation is landing at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu on Thursday morning. The aircraft has been given 9N-ALZ call-sign.A 20-member Nepali delegation has already reached France to take delivery of the aircraft which has been named 'Makalu' -- the fifth highest mountain in the world.According to a source at NAC, a technical team of the state-owned carrier left for Toulouse, where the production line of Airbus is located, on Friday. Similarly, a team including pilots, led by Managing Director Sugat Ratna Kansakar, went on Sunday.NAC received first of its two wide-body jets 28.
The national flag carrier has named in 'Annapurna' -- the goddess of bounty and the 10th highest mountain in the world. The aircraft has already completed its proving flight by flying to New Delhi on Monday. 'Annapurna' is all set to operate flights to Japan, Korea and Saudi Arabia. Rabindra Shrestha, the spokesperson for NAC, said that it will take at least two to three weeks administrative formalities for the new aircraft.
"We cannot give you exact date right now. But we are targeting to press 'Makalu' into commercial service by September," he added. NAC invested Rs 24 billion to purchase the wide-body jets from US-based AAR Corp. Both the aircraft were originally ordered by Portuguese aircraft leasing company Hi Fly. Both the aircraft are configured to carry 274 passengers, including 16 seats in business class. The national flag carrier has released all payment installments to AAR Corp. NAC hopes that it will be able to serve the Nepali tourism more effectively once the two wide-body jets start commercial operation.
“Air connectivity is a must for tourism industry. We needed to strengthen our air connectivity to bring more tourists to the country and to achieve the targets of Visit Year 2020," Shrestha said.He added that six Nepali pilots are ready to fly wide-body aircraft, while six First Officers are currently undergoing training to fly the new jets."We are preparing to hire foreign pilots as we don't have sufficient pilots to fly the new aircraft. Also, our pilots are not prepared yet to fly these aircraft," Shrestha added.
The national flag carrier needs another 12 Captains and 12 First Officers to operate the two Airbus A330-200 to full capacity. NAC estimates that it will have to pay foreign pilots Rs 1.7 million to Rs 1.8 million per month. With the addition of second Airbus A330-200 aircraft, NAC will have 13 aircraft – two Airbus A330-200s, two Airbus A320-200s, one B757-200, two MA60s, four Y12Es and two Twin Otter aircraft. As part of expanding its fleet further, NAC has already started preparation to buy two Airbus A320neo family aircraft for short-haul flights.