Nepal to get remaining Chinese aircraft by February 2017: management

Updated 2016-12-24 15:07:55 Xinhua

Nepal Airline Corporation (NAC), the state-owned aviation entity in Nepal, said it could take delivery of two of the four Chinese aircraft on order by February 2017.

As per the commercial agreement signed between Nepal's national flag carrier and Chinese supplier-AVIC International Holding in December 2012, Nepal would acquire six Chinese aircraft, two in grant and four in soft loans.

Of them, the NAC has already acquired one 56-seater MA60 and one 17-seater Y12e delivered under grant component from the Chinese government but it is yet to take delivery of three Y12e and one MA60 under the loan component.

"I cannot confirm the exact date of bringing the remaining Chinese aircraft but I think we can take delivery of two of them by February," said Sugat Ratna Kansakar, managing director of Nepal's national flag carrier.

The NAC has the plan to bring one MA60 and another Y12e initially before taking delivery of remaining two planes gradually.

The arrival of two aircraft is expected to enhance the reliability of NAC's air service.

"We have just one MA60 and one Y12e in operation now. We face trouble to operate our service smoothly when one is grounded due to some technical problems," said Kansakar.

"The arrival of new planes will address this situation and save us from any bad publicity."

The Chinese side has said all the planes that Nepal had sought to acquire, are ready for delivery since 2015. The aircraft, bearing NAC livery and Nepali registration numbers, have been sitting in the factory's hangar since then.

However, the NAC has been delaying to take delivery arguing that it has some issues related to spare parts, training, load capacity and insurance with the supplier to be sorted out before taking delivery of those planes.

Earlier in October, Nepal's Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Ministry instructed the NAC to take delivery of remaining planes as early as possible by sorting out any issue with the supplier.

China Exim Bank has already paid 60 percent of the cost to the manufacturer which has been paid as loan to Nepal to purchase the aircraft, according to the ministry.

"As per the ministry's instruction, the NAC and the aircraft supplier, AVIC International Holding have already signed two or three minutes to address the issues we have raised," Kansakar told Xinhua.

"We are going to take delivery of the remaining aircraft once works are done as per the agreement."

Both NAC and Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the aviation sector regulator of Nepal, have said they have not found any faults in Chinese aircraft in their technical and technological strength.

In fact, CAAN has already given type certificate to the Chinese planes which means the aircraft is manufactured according to an approved design, and that the design ensures compliance with airworthiness requirements.

However, the NAC said they are a little worried about delay in getting delivery of spare parts, relatively higher insurance cost and load restriction to land at the certain airports of Nepal in the case of Y12e.

According to Kansakar, the load-related issue will now no longer be any problem as the NAC has already decided to operate the Y12e at the airports where this is no problem at all.

Kansakar also praised the Chinese aircraft of being much cheaper compared to similar aircraft from other manufacturers.

"When I checked the aircraft prices of similar aircraft compared to MA60 from other manufacturers, prices are 1.5-2 times higher," said Kansakar.

"The Y12e is also cheaper compared to similar planes from other manufacturers from the rich countries."

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