While mismanagement, political interference and corruption have put Nepal Airlines Corporation on the path to self-destruction, a global airline rating service has now ranked the country’s national flag carrier one of the worst airlines in the world.
In its recent annual world airline star ratings, UK-based Skytrax stated that Nepal Airlines is one of 22 airlines in the world, to have been awarded just two stars, disclosing that the state-owned international air carrier delivered low quality performance, below the industry quality average across many of rating sectors.
A two-star airline rating signifies poorer or inconsistent standards of product and front-line staff service for cabin service and home-base airport environment, according to Skytrax rankings which are focused more on service and not safety.
Twenty-two airlines including Nepal Airlines, Sudan Air, Iran Air and Biman Bangladesh, among others, have been awarded two stars while North Korea’s Air Koryo is the only carrier to have been awarded just one star in ranking.
One star, Skytrax defines, a poor quality of product delivered across the assessment sectors, combining with low and/or inconsistent standards of front-line staff service for on board and home-base airport.
Seven airlines have been awarded five stars as Skytrax included more than 180 airlines in the rankings which are recognised as the global benchmark of airline standards. According to Skytrax, customer reviews indicated that Nepal Airlines service was not up to the mark in several indicators that include in-flight entertainment, seat comfort and staff service as well as food and beverage quality.
Though most NAC officials are aware of the fundamental problems plaguing the corporation for decades, NAC’s managing director Sugat Ratna Kansakar, however, disagreed with the ‘world’s worst title’. “Several corrective measures have already been introduced to improve NAC’s services,” he added, claiming that NAC served world-class food and beverage on board.
A senior NAC pilot mentioned that indiscipline and monopoly had severely affected the corporation of late while he also referred to the existing tussle between NAC’s board and management as well as non-cooperative nature of the pilots and other employees. “Skytrax ranking should certainly be a wake-up call for NAC management to reform its organisational structure and working style at the earliest,” he added.
NAC, which now operates two narrow-body Airbus planes and two aged Boeings in international destinations, also plans to add more wide-body planes to its fleet to commence direct flights to Europe though the European Union has not removed its ban on Nepali airlines from flying to the 28-nation bloc.
According to aviation experts, a long failure on part of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal to conduct proper safety oversight has resulted in continuation of significant safety concerns by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and EU ban on Nepali airlines for more than three years while the aviation regulatory body has also ignored international aviation standards and regulations.