EDITORIAL: Overhaul NAC
The Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) is still facing difficult times and at present it is not operating any international flights.
Probably this is the worst flight schedule crisis that it ever faced with seven of its eight aircraft not operating. Three of these aircraft used to ply on the international routes and three on domestic.
The NAC spokesperson said that an Airbus 320 and a Twin-otter were in operation. However, even the Airbus 320 serving international destinations has to be sent to Hong Kong for a regular bores-cope inspection of its turbines.
The responsibility for this debacle should be taken by the NAC management. What we see is a lack of coordination among the various NAC departments which should be revamped.
As a result of poor management, an Airbus, two-Boeings, a Modern Ark 60, Y12e and a twin-otter have been grounded since Saturday. Unfortunately, the grounding of NAC aircraft has been a regular feature for a number of years.
As a result the NAC is no longer operating flights to Doha, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok and also India and Hong Kong. An Airbus 320 has been grounded after it hit a bird as it took off on Thursday.
Meanwhile a Boeing 9N-ACB has been grounded after it faced technical problems with its blowout panel while its Boeing 9N-ACA has been sent to Singapore presumably for repairs and maintenance.
The NAC aircraft ply to destinations where private airliners do not operate at a nominal fare. This is because the two Chinese aircraft possessed by NAC – a MA 60 and a Y12e -- are undergoing maintenance, and it could take time to complete them to resume flights in the domestic sector.
Another Twin-otter owned by the NAC has also not been operating because it is facing some technical hitches. Therefore, the NAC is unable to operate in most of its domestic destinations and furthermore the international flights cannot take place for sometime.
The NAC officials say that they would be getting two new wide-body jets within the next fiscal. But these aircraft would not be permitted to fly to various European destinations as all Nepali aircraft have been denied access to Europe by the European Commission citing safety concerns.
These concerns raised are valid because of the poor air safety record of the national flag carrier. Talks are supposed to be held between a group of NAC pilots and officials of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation with the objective of solving the crisis being faced by NAC.
The failure of NAC to operate more flights and acquire new aircraft is no excuse. NAC has been in perennial crisis whereas new domestic private airlines have expanded and become stronger with the passage of time.
As it is, NAC is suffering from a chronic disease which the existing medication will be unable to cure. Despite several commissions formed at various times in the past to find out ways of turning NAC around, nothing substantial has been done yet.
This shows the indifference of successive governments. What is required is a major surgery to bring NAC back to life again. Which may suggest several alternatives.
Changing the ownership structure of NAC underlies any viable solution.
Many people believe that bottled or jarred water is hygienic and safe to drink as it is well-treated and well-packed before it is supplied to the market for public consumption.
Many urban households are increasingly relying on bottled or jarred water believing that it is hygienic and it does not require filtering and boiling. But bottled or jarred water of some cheap brands has not been hygienic causing adverse impact on public health.
A recent market monitoring of a team from Department of Commerce and Supply Management has found two of the water bottling plants to be unhygienic and unsafe for drinking as they failed to maintain minimum standards of hygiene.
The two water bottling plants were found to be selling sub-standard bottled water without labels for many years unnoticed by the government bodies.
The inspection teams must monitor all meat shops, sweet shops and water bottling plants on a regular basis so that none of them can flout the rules and play with public health.
Such work must not be a onetime occasion. Those found guilty should be punished by law and if the case is very serious their license must be scrapped once and for all.