Petromax to airlift ATF from tomorrow

Kathmandu, November 6

As supplies from India have been affected due to protests at the Nepal-India border, the country is gearing to airlift aviation turbine fuel in a bid to operate domestic airlines.

Nepal Oil Corporation the state-owned petroleum supply monopoly and officials of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) held a meeting today with Petromax Nepal regarding its preparations to airlift ATF after NOC informed about its ATF stock position.

Apparently, the ATF stock is only enough to serve the demand of domestic carriers for the next few days.

NOC recently awarded the contract to supply to ATF to Petromax Nepal. Petromax has proposed to supply ATF at Rs 210 per litre, inclusive of all taxes.

NOC had been supplying ATF to domestic airlines at Rs 118 per litre and to international carriers at $1.33 a litre before supply was disrupted.

Petromax Nepal will start airlifting fuel from Sunday and for this purpose, it has already chartered Jordan Aviation Airline’s Boeing 767.

According to Devananda Upadhyay, general manager of Tribhuvan International Airport, Jordan Aviation’s Boeing 767 has already received permission to land at TIA on November 7.

Jordan Aviation Airline has proposed to operate three flights every day from November 8 to 24 and bring 75 tonnes of ATF per flight, according to Gopal Bahadur Khadka, managing director of NOC.

While he could not confirm from where Petromax would airlift the fuel from, he said, “NOC will facilitate Petromax to airlift ATF either from Kolkata or Bangladesh.”

He further said there was no other option but to airlift ATF for uninterrupted service of domestic airlines.

Domestic airlines in Nepal consume 60 kilolitres of ATF each day. Petromax will supply 300 kl of ATF every day from November 8.

Meanwhile, Agence France Presse reported that fuel shortages may force the country’s private airlines to stop operating domestic flights from next week onwards.

“We don’t have enough ATF for aircraft. Unless we are able to source some in the next day or so, we will not be able to supply domestic private airlines,” AFP quoted Mukunda Ghimire, spokesman for NOC, as saying. “They may have to stop flying as early as Sunday.”

The country began barring international flights from refuelling facility in TIA from September 29. Initially, the restriction was in place until October 5, but has been extended to November 15 at present as it has been unable to replenish its stock.

From October 4, NOC also retracted the refuelling facility for mountain and chartered flights to prioritise domestic flights, considering the Dashain festival.

Currently, Nepal Airlines the national flag carrier has been airlifting ATF from Kolkata to operate its own flights. Nepal Airlines aircraft transport 22 kl ATF in one flight.

There are altogether six domestic airlines in Nepal, including Nepal Airlines.