Kathmandu,8 Feb 2015: Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has brought the world’s ultra-modern aircraft on international flight after a hiatus of 25 years.
The A 320-200 series Germany-made wide-bodied aircraft which the Corporation purchased with a French manufacturing company landed at the Tribhuvan International Airport today at 4.36 pm and it was given a colourful reception amidst the playing of the traditional Panchaibaja music and the chanting of Vedic hymns by the priests. The plane was brought via Doha, Qatar.
As the plane slowly made its way towards the hangar, it was welcomed with a water fountain as per the international practice. School children from nearly a dozen schools sang and danced to welcome the pilots and the distinguished guests who arrived on the plane.
High government officials including Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Secretary Suresh Man Shrestha and officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and NAC were on hand to welcome the Airbus – A320 which has been given the name Sagarmatha.
A troop of photo journalists including foreign ones and media people jostled to click a photo of the airplane as if a world’s top VVIP had arrived. Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation was on board the plane as a passenger.
Airbus pilot Matthew and co-pilot Shrawan Rijal had flown the plane from Doha to Kathmandu. NAC General Manager Madab Kharel performed a puja and offered garland as it stopped in the hanger.
There were two foreign and three Nepali pilots as well as five air hostesses. Eight other dignitaries including the Minister were on board the aircraft.
It is said Nepali pilots would take over the entire responsibility from their foreign counterparts after the completion of total 50 hours of flight time by the aircraft.
The new airbus will start commercial flights in the international sector from April. The airplane has 150 ordinary seats and an additional eight commercial ones. It will be employed for commercial flight from February 26.
Talking briefly to media persons at the airport after the welcome ceremony, NAC General Manager Kharel said the arrival of the new aircraft is a momentous event related to the nation’s dignity in the country’s aviation sector.
Stating that air service was also a means to introduce the country to the outside world, he believed that with the arrival of Sagarmatha the Corporation would be able to reclaim its share of the international civil aviation market maintaining its credibility.
NAC and Airbus, the French aircraft manufacturing company, had signed a sale and purchase agreement last year for the supply of two such aircraft.Â Kharel said the cost of the new aircraft is Rs 7.5 billion. NAC is all set to bring another aircraft of the same series within April this year. The Employees Provident Fund had provided Rs 10 billion loan to NAC for purchasing the aircraft.
Presently, NAC is operating flights to Doha, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. The flight to Dubai is halted and to New Delhi is completely stopped. NAC plans to increase its flights to these destinations with the arrival of the new aircraft.
NAC sometimes back has already brought two China-made MA 60 and Y 12 model aircraft. MA 60 is operating flights to different cities within the country while the Y12 to Pokhara and other remote areas.