Tourism Ministry asks for "Stopgap Measures" to lease aircraft from Bhutan

14th Jul, 2017 | Tourism Mail Crew

KATHMANDU, July 14 : With falling sort of aircrafts Nepal’s national flag carrier has knocked the door of the Prime Minister’s Office for a “stopgap measure” to enable Nepal Airlines to lease an aircraft from Bhutan Airlines for short time via the Tourism Ministry.

The NAC thus made the request to the Prime Minister through the Tourism Ministry as incumbent Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba holds the portfolio.

Nepal’s national flag carrier is in plan to lease an 17 year old Airbus of Bhutan Airlines which is contrary to the Civil Aviation Policy of Nepal. The policy regarding the Civil Aviation sector of Nepal prohibits imports of pressurized aircraft that are more than 15 years old.

With the obstacle created by the policy NAC is likely to face possible aircraft shortages and flight cancellations as its plan to wet lease an Airbus A319 to substitute for its Boeing 757, which is being sent away for a maintenance check, has had to be cancelled due to the rule.

Its Boeing is being sent away on July 16 for a maintenance check lasting 45 days.

As per the financial proposal of Bhutan Airlines, it will charge $3,850 per hour under the wet lease agreement. A wet lease is a leasing arrangement under which the lessor provides the aircraft, complete crew, maintenance and insurance to another airline which pays by hours operated.

The Airbus A319 of Bhutan Airlines seats 122 passengers, and calculated on the basis of an average ticket price of Rs10,000 for the one-hour flight to Delhi, NAC can earn revenues of Rs2.4 million on every roundtrip. After deducting 30-35 percent for fuel and parking charges, the carrier could be making a good profit.

There were only two takers when NAC invited bids for the wet lease of an Airbus A319, A320 or A321—Ukraine-based aircraft leasing company 12 Star Aviation and Bhutan Airlines. As per the proposal, the wet lease contract would begin on July 16 and last for 45 days. It can be extended to 60 days, NAC said.

The corporation plans to operate scheduled flights with the leased aircraft on the Kuala Lumpur, Doha, Delhi and Bangalore or other sectors. The second bidder’s offer had to be rejected as it was not technically qualified, said an NAC official. On April 10, the corporation put one of its two Boeing 757s up for auction.