The second of the two Airbus A320-200 aircrafts ordered by the national flag carrier has landed at Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu today early morning, said spokesperson of NAC Ram Hari Sharma.
The aircraft named 'Lumbini' landed at the TIA at 6:40 am, he said, adding that the aircraft has flown to Kathmandu via Doha from German. " A flight instructor from Airbus and an NAC pilot flew the aircraft from Hamburg in Germany via Doha to Kathmandu."
Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has given 9N-AKX call sign to the new aircraft that will start commercial operations after getting clearance from the regulatory authority.
"The aircraft will go through regular procedure like payment of customs duty to the government and obtaining air operators certificate (AOC) from the CAAN before it will start its commercial operation," Sharma added. "NAC will begin the registration procedures first."
The first – Airbus 'Sagarmatha' – of the two Airbuses arrived on February 8. It had started its commercial operation from February 27 from New Delhi. Sagarmatha was welcomed with a colourful fanfare. However, Lumbini has been welcomed silently as the country is mourning the loss of thousands people, who died due to Saturday's devastating earthquake. But NAC chairman Ram Sharan Neupane and acting general manager Ganesh Bahadur Chand welcomed the Airbus that had 18 passengers, including crew members, four German doctors, two nurses, two representatives of the German organisation and two journalists from Hamburg to Kathmandu.
The aircraft has but also brought in a medical team and relief materials. According to NAC, four doctors, two nurses, two observers and two journalists were on board the aircraft besides the Nepali team which went to Germany to receive the aircraft.
The Airbus Foundation, Humedica – a German NGO – and NAC used the flight to transport relief materials and medical team to provide aid to the victims. The aircraft has brought five tonnes of relief supply including 3.3 tonnes of medicine. The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus teamed up with German relief organisation Humedica to help send the aid t Nepal.
Likewise, a five member team consisting of director of NAC's Quality Assurance and Flight Safety Department Rabin Pradhan, director of Engineering Department Karna Bahadur Thapa, Project Coordinator Prabhas Karmacharya, Engineer Pawan Kumar Karwal and chief of CAAN's Airworthiness Division Bhesh Raj Subedi had gone to Germany on April 22 to receive the aircraft.
The national flag carrier has now four aircraft – two Airbus and two Boeings – in its international fleet. The NAC had started the process to acquire aircraft for international operation six years ago. But it got delayed due to controversy. NAC finally signed purchase agreement with Airbus for two aircraft on June 27, 2013. The catalogue price of Airbus A320-200 is around Rs 15 billion. But the Airbus is providing free training to NAC's engineers and pilots according to the agreement.
NAC had borrowed Rs 10 billion from from Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) at a fixed interest rate of 12 per cent per annum. The NAC will pay back the loan within 15 years, according to the agreement.
Powered by engines made by US-based International Aero Engines both the Airbus A320 aircraft has a capacity of 158 seats, including eight for business class and the rest for economy class. But NAC’s two aage-old Boeings 757 — Gandaki and Karnali — have a seat capacity for 190 passengers.
With the second Airbus, NAC will now add more international destinations including Bangalore in India and Guangzhau in China, Sharma informed. But the corporation has been facing shortage of pilots to fly the Airbus.