Kathmandu, June 9:

Fifty years of existence usually calls for unbridled celebrations. But not for the country’s flag carrier which appears to have lost everything stately about it. Nepal Airlines Corporation, which turns 50 on July 1, finds few reasons to raise a toast. With only one Boeing 757 flying to just four international destinations as against more than 20 in its heydays, the management is grappling with a demoralised staff, high rate of attrition among pilots and waning credibility in the travel market.

Nevertheless, a Golden Jubilee celebration committee was set up a couple of months back to organise a series of activities to mark the grand event. The committee reportedly chalked out an elaborate programme lasting for a month including series of sports and fun activities, cocktail and dinner, special awards and an anniversary logo.

The budget for the regular anniversary of one million rupees, too, was jacked up to five million for the celebrati-ons, informed senior NAC officials.

However, lack of enthusiasm shown by the staff of the beleaguered airlines appears to have deflated all plans for a gala celebration. Deputy managing director Ganesh Thakur in-charge of the celebration committee admitted the celebrations were being toned down immensely. “We have cancelled several eve-nts like musical chair, walkathon, marathon and cocktail dinner keeping in mind circumstances,” he revealed.

The celebrations would now include a table tennis match between different airlines, a foundation stone laying ceremony of NAC office at the airport, token gifts for passengers travelling on July 1 and one tola worth of silver coin engraved with the anniversary logo for the employees.

Evidently, the management is at pains to bring about a consensus on the scale of celebrations. “We have involved all the unions and have their approval,” claimed the DMD.

Incidentally, the second NAC aircraft, which has been languishing in Brunei for repair for over six months, is expected to be back on June 20. All hopes are pinned on the return of the aircraft which has been delayed several times in the past for some reason or the other.

“My golden jubilee celebration would be to get the other aircraft in the air,” said NAC managing director K B Limbu. He claimed to be confident that the aircraft would be here positively in time for the celebrations as all the spare parts had been provided.

Director commercial Raju Bahadur KC confessed that he had been facing a tough time trying to market the airlines with only one aircraft in hand. “What do we market when the product is not there. We have been anxiously waiting for the other aircraft in order to win back our credibility in the travel industry,” said KC.

The aircraft is certainly on its way back, believe NAC officials, as it has acquired the certificate of air worthiness from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. But in the worst circumstances, if the Boeing fails to land before July 1, then all celebrations are likely to be postponed to a later date, pointed out Thakur.