Kharel resigns as NAC executive chairman

Kathmandu, January 19

Executive Chairman of Nepal Airlines Corporation Madan Kharel tendered his resignation today nearly 16 months after his appointment. Kharel submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister’s Office, instead of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation as is the general practice.

According to sources, Kharel was directed by the PMO to tender his resignation ‘due to his failure to expand NAC’s business as expected’.

As per the Cabinet’s decision of 14 September 2018, Kharel was appointed NAC’s executive chairman on 17 September 2018.

According to the NAC Act, Kharel was appointed directly by the government before the tenure of former managing director Sugat Ratna Kansakar ended.

Kansakar at the time was dragged into controversy regarding the process of procuring the wide-body Airbus aircraft.

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation had often stated that it was not satisfied with Kharel’s work progress. Even Civil Aviation Minister Yogesh Bhattarai had hinted at changing the NAC leadership if no immediate steps were taken to strengthen the national flag carrier.

On December 29, NAC’s board meeting had sought a five-point clarification from Kharel after he briefed Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli that he was not able to perform as per his plans due to lack of cooperation from the board.

Kharel had been criticised for failing to add more destinations, operating flights to Osaka instead of Narita that has more passenger flow and neglecting flight operations to China. He was also blamed for failing to operate flights smoothly in the domestic sector as NAC’s small aircraft are still grounded.

This is the second time that Kharel has stepped down from a high post at NAC. Prior to this, he had resigned as the managing director in 2015. Even then he was criticised by the government for failing to operate NAC effectively. However, he claimed that he had resigned back then under pressure from the NAC’s trade union. He had served at NAC as MD from 2012 to 2015.