Kathmandu, March 22
Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC)’s plan to improve its business through the operation of the two Airbus A330-200 wide-body aircraft has partially failed as the corporation has not been able to fully utilise these aircraft. Though these aircraft were purchased with an aim to start flights to destinations like Japan, China, Korea, Saudi Arabia and a few European countries, the corporation at present is operating these aircraft to short destinations like Delhi, Doha, Mumbai and Bangalore, which has been adding financial pressure on NAC.
NAC had planned to begin direct flight operations to Japan, China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea from February. However, it has got stuck in its first target, Osaka International Airport. NAC has again postponed the deadline to begin flights to Osaka International Airport from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). It has already been three months since NAC submitted all the required documents to Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB). However, JCAB is still conducting several studies for flight operations.
As per NAC, JCAB has nearly finished studying the documents submitted by NAC and is currently examining the ground handling service of the corporation. “We are now in the final phase and hopefully JCAB will send their response soon,” said Navaraj Koirala, joint spokesperson for NAC. He, however, said that it might take at least 45 days for JCAB to send the report.
“JCAB has informed us that it will take more than a month to prepare a report after completing the field observation and other needful studies,” he said.
Although NAC had earlier announced it would begin flights to Osaka from February it received the Air Operators’ Certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) only on February 2. After receiving AOC from CAAN, the national flag carrier had said that they will operate flights to Osaka within a month. However, at present NAC says that JCAB will give the permission for the flights only after about a month after completing their study.
“We have finalised the necessary details on our part and it is the JCAB that is taking time to complete their study,” Koirala said, adding, “They are positive about allowing us to operate direct flights though.” Meanwhile, NAC is planning to hold high-level meetings between the aviation authorities of the two countries, he added. As per Koirala, a formal meeting between the two concerned authorities is still to be held before any decision can be taken regarding flight operation.
Operation of commercial flights to Osaka is expected to help NAC overcome the financial challenges that it is facing at the moment. “Direct flights to Osaka will help generate revenue for NAC and also contribute to the growth of Japanese tourists visiting Nepal,” Koirala said. “Our targeted passengers will be Nepalis residing in Japan and Japanese tourists travelling to Nepal.”
While NAC is struggling to operate the wide-body aircraft in a full-fledged manner, lawmakers have also directed NAC to come up with a concrete business plan to avoid losses in flight operation. Prior to this, NAC had announced to operate commercial flight to Japan from February, China from March, Saudi Arabia from April and Korea from May.
Meanwhile, NAC is currently operating international flights to Delhi, Doha, Dubai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Mumbai and Bangalore.
A version of this article appears in print on March 23, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.