NAC decides to bring five grounded twin-otters into operation
KATHMANDU, Nov 5: With the objective to strengthen its domestic network, national flag carrier has started preparations to operate its five grounded twin-otters. The airlines has decided to overhaul the engines of these aircraft on exchange basis, some of which has been not operated for almost a decade in the lack of maintenance and unavailability of spare parts.
The decision comes at the time when the government has decided to procure eight aircraft.
Raju Bahadur K.C, acting Managing Director of the airlines said they were unable to directly go for the tender to exchange the engine because of the existing bylaws of the NAC which has not mentioned anything about procuring engine on exchange basis.
“As per our plan to operate the grounded aircrafts we have forwarded the proposal to the board so that the process can go ahead with the amendment of the bylaws,” he said. Once, the board amends the bylaws, the corporation will invite tender for the overhauling of the engine.
According to K.C, the engine overhaul will be carried on zero value basis meaning the engines will be as good as new one. The airlines had decided to repair the grounded aircrafts after comparing the cost. “In order to procure a similar kind of aircraft it will cost us around US $ 6.5 million but on an average the cost of overhauling is around US $ 2 million,” said K.C.
The airlines plans to use these aircrafts as profit center. “The demand in domestic sector is higher and its convenient to operate flight in domestic sector,” K.C said. “Although we can´t focus on profit only like private carriers we will try our best to generate more revenue and provide service to passengers at same time,” he added.
NAC was planning to increase the flight frequency to its rural destinations and use the aircrafts for chartered flight which generate more revenue. He said, “Besides, we are preparing to operate service to tourist destinations like Lukla and Jomsom.”
NAC operates to most rural airports with total destinations of around 20. Despite that the airlines has been operating at a loss, particularly in domestic sector since the beginning. Not just that, the market share of the airlines in domestic sector has shrunk to three percent in the last fiscal year because of limited number of aircrafts.
NAC´s plan to flight to Dammam on hold
Although the airlines was preparing to operate flights to Dammam of Saudi Arabia, it has been forced to postpone its plan in the lack of Air Service Agreement. The NAC board had decided to operate three flights in a week by cutting down the flights to Dubai in September. As per the current agreement with Saudia Arabia Nepal can operate two flights a week to Riyadh only.
“We have requested tourism ministry to review the ASA so that we can start the direct flight to Dammam,” acting Managing Director Raju Bahadur K.C said. As the flight hours to Riyadh is more than six hours, ageing Boeing 757 can´t operate the flights.
Saudi Arabia is one of the largest destinations for Nepali migrant workers. Every year more than 80,000 migrant workers fly to Saudi Arabia from Tribhuvan International Airport. At present NAC is operating 22 flights a week to five international destinations.