State-owned Nepal Airlines Corporation will get its first new aircraft in nearly three decades on Sunday, with the arrival of China-made MA60.
The aircraft will touchdown at Tribhuvan International Airport at 12:10pm on Sunday, confirmed NAC Spokesperson Ram Hari Sharma.
Although NAC was supposed to receive the airplane on Saturday, it would not do be possible to do so due to the lengthy process of getting no-objection certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. “We finally received the certificate late in the evening today, which has paved the way to bring in the aircraft to Nepal,” Sharma said.
The plane will be flying to Nepal from Xian province in China, where the manufacturing plant of Avic International Holding, the maker of MA60, is located.
“Once the aircraft arrives, we will have to apply for Air Operator Certificate at CAAN, as without this document we cannot conduct flights here,” said Sharma, adding, “We hope CAAN will issue the certificate without much delay.”
NAC is mulling over taking the new aircraft to Bhairahawa on April 29 for its maiden flight.
“On board the inaugural flight will be Chinese ambassador to Nepal, president of Avic International and senior Nepali and Chinese government officials,” Sharma said.
It is learnt that NAC has also requested Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Bhim Acharya to take part in the trip to Bhairahawa and then to Lumbini, but he has not confirmed his participation yet.
Within a week of the maiden flight, NAC is planning to start scheduled flights to Dhangadi, Bhairahawa, Biratnagar and Bhadrapur using the new aircraft.
“We already have four pilots and nine engineers ready to fly and handle the new Chinese aircraft,” Sharma said.
The arrival of MA60 is expected to herald an overhaul in NAC’s fleet, as it is expecting to get another Chinese aircraft, Y12E, on June 30, followed by one MA60 by September 30, three additional Y12Es by October 30 and two Airbuses by next year.
NAC is conducting its operations using two Boeings and a Twin Otter.