Nepal | July 05, 2020

NAC plans to use only Airbus aircraft in int’l fleet

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, December 23

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has set its sight on only using Airbus aircraft in its international fleet to bring down its operation cost.

The national flag carrier currently has two Airbuses and two Boeings — one of which has been grounded since last two months — that are used to fly to international destinations. “Having two brands of aircraft has resulted in higher operation cost for NAC due to the requirement of two pools of engineers, crew members, different spare parts for Airbus and Boeing aircraft,” explained Ram Hari Sharma, spokesperson for NAC, adding that the national flag carrier is preparing to issue an auction notice to sell the grounded Boeing-757.

NAC decided to sell the 29-year-old aircraft because it has been facing various problems time and again. According to Sharma, the corporation would need to inject around Rs one billion for the maintenance of the aircraft to bring it back to operation.

Currently, NAC has three aircraft — two brand new Airbuses and one 28-year-old Boeing — in its international fleet covering eight different destinations.

NAC is also mulling over selling the Boeing-757 currently in operation if the aircraft requires heavy maintenance in the future, according to Sharma. After that, NAC will have only Airbus aircraft in its international fleet because NAC has already issued a tender to purchase two wide-body Airbus aircraft — A330-200 series.

Regarding the allegations against NAC that it is avoiding global tender with its plans to only operate Airbus aircraft in its international fleet, Sharma explained, “In general, it is a customary practice to operate aircraft from a single manufacturer. For example, Jet Air and Ethiopian Air have Boeing aircraft, whereas all aircraft of Air Asia and Indigo are from European manufacturer Airbus.”

Back in 2009, NAC management had tried to avoid calling for a global tender to purchase six aircraft and tried to convince the government to make a special decision through the Cabinet to go for direct negotiation with Boeing to buy aircraft. However, the Public Procurement Act of that time did not allow avoiding calling for a tender in any kind of procurement and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) instructed NAC to abide by international competitive bidding to buy aircraft. Both Boeing and Airbus had participated in the bidding and Airbus had quoted lower price than Boeing and had bagged the contract.

This time too, NAC has specifically mentioned procuring Airbus and has opted for the smallest wide-body plane with highest flying time range, that is, A330-200 series.

It is reported that the bid-evaluation committee has already submitted a report to the NAC board chaired by secretary of the MoCTCA. As per NAC sources, the quoted price of the smallest available 270-seater aircraft is $109 million.

“If everything goes smoothly, NAC will be able to bring the first aircraft by September of 2017 and another one by April 2018,” as per Sharma.

 


A version of this article appears in print on December 24, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.


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