KATHMANDU, Sept 12: If everything goes as planned, national flag carrier Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) will have a new Airbus in its fleet by next September. "We are planning to bring one widebody aircraft by September 2017 while a second one will arrive by April 2018," according to Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) Managing Director Sugat Ratna Kansakar.
The national flag carrier is planning to call a tender for two widebody aircraft by December and sign the purchase agreement by March 2017, he said, adding that the plan appeared possible after Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara on Sunday promised the NAC team led by Tourism Minister Jeevan Bahadur Shahi that he would table the proposal in the cabinet soon.
"Finance Minister Mahara promised to take the proposal to the cabinet to secure the government's guarantee," he added. NAC had long been seeking government guarantee to purchase two widebody aircraft and expand in the international market. Currently, the national flag carrier flies to eight international destinations including three Indian cities, and it plans to expand to Guangzhou, China soon. The new widebody aircraft will help NAC start non-stop flights to London, Kansakar added.
To fly Kathmandu-London-Kathmandu direct
First widebody likely ro arrive by September 2017
Second one by April 2018
We will be borrowing Rs 25 billion from the Citizens Investment Trust (CIT) and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) after the government's guarantee, Kansakar said.
"Details of the borrowing plan are being owrked out."
NAC has already borrowed Rs 10 billion from EPF for the purchase of two Airbus aircraft last year. The details for fresh borrowing will be worked out by the board and the nitty gritty of the procurement finalised, he added.
The induction of two new jets will bring the number of Airbus aircraft with NAC to four.
The national flag carrier is planning to phase out its ageing Boeing 757s and run an all-Airbus fleet.
NAC currently has five different types of aircraft -- Boeing, Airbus, Twin Otter, MA60 and Y12e -- in its fleet and this has made it difficult to manage different sets of pilots, engineers and spares.
The Airbus widebody can accommodate up to 280 passengers and serve long-haul destinations like the UK, Japan and Australia.
The current fiscal year budget has promised funds for the national carrier to buy the widebodies. NAC's market share on the international routes stood at 7.88 percent in 2015, up from 5.87 percent in 2014.