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NAC’s Boeing services halted

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC)'s plane in Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Kathmandu. Photo: THT file

Kathmandu, June 1, 2016: Nepal Airlines Corporation’s Boeing services came to a complete halt today, as its 9N-ACB aircraft was sent to Singapore yesterday to change its engine. “There will be no NAC flight to Doha and Kuala Lumpur for a couple of days,” NAC spokesperson Ram Hari Sharma said.

According to a source at Tribhuvan International Airport, Boeing 9N-ACA has also been grounded since April 26 due to negligence of NAC’s management. “The only functional engine of ACA will be installed in ACB,” Sharma said, adding that the aircraft might return to Kathmandu on Friday. The age-old ACA will remain non-operational till it gets a new engine.

ACB had also faced a hydraulic problem after landing in Doha last week.

Each of NAC’s two Airbus jets operate hardly six hours a day, while other international airlines operate the same jet for 14 hours a day. “NAC flies Boeing to Bangalore, Bangkok, Doha and Kuala Lumpur, while narrow-body Airbus jets often fly to New Delhi, Mumbai and Hong Kong,” a senior NAC captain said.

According to him, NAC has only seven captains who can fly the two Airbus jets and one jet in its full capacity. “Two instructor pilots will be arriving from France on Thursday to clear three more captains and 12 first officers for Airbus,” the spokesperson told THT. “We are rescheduling flights to normalise international operations,” he claimed.

Sharma said Y12e aircraft gifted by China had also been grounded for over three weeks due to a technical problem, while only MA-60 and a twin-otter were flying to domestic destinations.

Though the NAC management hopes to get two new wide body jets by the end of next fiscal year, operation of such jets, officials claimed, would be more challenging in the current scenario.

“NAC can’t fly the jets to European destinations, as all Nepali carriers have been banned by the European Commission for significant safety concerns,” another senior captain said.

Apart from the EU blacklist, it’s almost certain that the regulatory authority Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal will not be able to thoroughly oversee the air carriers due to lack of capability, as clearly pointed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.