KATHMANDU, March 9: Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) won´t fly in domestic skies at least for a month as it doesn´t have any aircraft for domestic flights.
Until about a month ago, NAC was operating two Twin Otter aircraft. But one of them crashed at Argakhanchi district last month, and the other with call sigh 9N-ABU has been grounded at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) after its engine caught fire on Friday. Though NAC has three other Twin Otters, they have been grounded for many years and cannot be brought into operation immediately.
“Domestic flights will be halted for some time as we don´t have any aircraft,” Ram Hari Sharma, spokesperson of NAC, told Republica on Sunday. “It can be for a month or even more.”
Sharma said the national flag carrier was not sure when the engine of 9N-ABU will be repaired. “We don´t have engineers who could repair the engine. We probably will have to take it abroad for maintenance,” said Sharma. “We have to follow certain procedures to repair the engine which is time consuming. It takes time to make the aircraft ready for flight.”
He said an eligible foreign company will have to be selected to repair the engine by announcing a tender notice at the earliest. “Maintenance time depends on the problem seen in the engine,” said Sharma.
He said the national flag carrier would issue the tender notice soon.
Meanwhile, NAC is planning to operate its grounded Twin Otter with call sign 9N-ABT by mid-April. The aircraft has been grounded since one and half years ago after its engine life expired.
“We announced a tender notice a month ago for replacement of the engine and maintenance of the aircraft,” Sharma said, adding that he was hopeful that the aircraft will be ready for operation by mid-April.
At present, NAC only has two Boeing 757 aircraft for international operation. It, however, has placed orders for eight aircraft - two Airbus A320-200 for international operation and six small aircraft for international operation.
NAC is acquiring two MA 60s and four Harbin Y12e aircraft from China.