China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) today formally handed over one of two Modern Ark 60 (MA60) aircraft to Nepal Airlines Corporation.
The 56-seater turboprop-powered airliner was handed over to airlines managing director Madan Kharel by AVIC vice-president Subo in Xi’an, China. “The MA60 aircraft will arrive in Kathmandu on April 26,” according to the national flag carrier.
Spokesperson at the NAC Ram Hari Sharma confirmed that the Chinese company has handed over the aircraft to the ailing airlines that is planning to receive six Chinese-made aircraft – two MA60 and four Y12e manufactured by Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation – within this year.
Two of the planes are gifts from China, whereas NAC will pay for the four.
The aircraft less NAC will be receiving one of the four Y12e aircraft on June 30 and the rest by September 30, Sharma informed.
The MA60 aircraft – made by China’s Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation under the AVIC International Holding Corporation – has however been not permitted to fly in Nepal.
However, the national flag carrier that has become aircraft less after two consecutive crashes in less than a year is hopeful of reviving its domestic operations with the new fleet.
Everytime, the airlines tried to get new aircraft, there has been huge opposition that has left the NAC with no aircraft, while over two dozen airlines have been flying to Nepal and almost a dozen domestic private airliners have been enjoying the domestic market.
But NAC will adding aircraft after more than two and a half decades, if everything goes as planned. “The MA60 will be flown on its Biratnagar, Pokhara, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj and Bhadrapur routes,” Sharma said, adding that the smaller Y12e will operate on remote sectors, including a number of tourist destinations as bin Y-12e is an alternative to the Twin Otter.
During its heyday, the NAC used to fly 18 aircraft – 12 Twin Otters, three Avro and three Pilatus Porters – to 42 domestic destinations.
The Canadian International Development Agency had donated seven Twin Otters to NAC between 1972 and 1979. The Canadian-built Twin Otter, a 19-passenger aircraft with STOL capability and a high rate of climb, was the most suitable aircraft for serving Nepal’s remote and mountainous regions but there were very few reconditioned planes for sale in the world market.
Year-wise domestic passenger movement
Year – Passenger(million) – Change (%)
2004 – 0.87 – 17.1
2005 – 1.11 – 26.80
2006 – 0.88 – -20.50
2007 – 0.91 – 3.80
2008 – 1.03 – 13.10
2009 – 1.37 – 32.9
2010 – 1.55 – 12.83
2011 – 1.58 – 1.85
2012 – 1.57 – -0.55
2013 – 1.54 – -2.06