Nepal Airlines Corporation (Nepali: नेपाल वायुसेवा निगम), formerly known as Royal Nepal Airlines (Nepali: शाही नेपाल वायुसेवा), is the flag carrier of Nepal. Founded in 1958, it is the oldest airline of the country. Out of its main base at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, the airline operates domestic services within Nepal and medium-haul services in Asia. The airline's first aircraft was a Douglas DC-3, used to serve domestic routes and a handful of destinations in India. The airline acquired its first jet aircraft, Boeing 727s, in 1972. As of 25 August 2019, the airline operates a fleet of thirteen aircraft. Since 2013, the airline has been on the list of air carriers banned in the European Union.
|Founded||1 July 1958, as Royal Nepal Airlines|
|Hubs||Tribhuvan International Airport|
|Company slogan||New World (Nepali: नयॉं संसार)|
|Parent company||Government of Nepal|
|Headquarters||Kantipath, Kathmandu, Province No. 3, Nepal|
|Key people||Madan Kharel|
- 1 History
- 2 Destinations
- 3 Fleet
- 4 Cabins and services
- 5 Incidents and accidents
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
1950s and 1960s: early yearsEdit
The airline was established in July 1958 as Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation with one Douglas DC-3. At the beginning, its services were limited to Simara, Pokhara and destinations to India such as Patna, Calcutta and Delhi. In 1961, Pilatus Porter STOL aircraft joined the fleet, and in 1963 12-seater Chinese Feng Shou-2 Harvesters were brought into service, opening up the kingdom's more remote routes.
Nepal's geopolitical situation produced a strange, politically mixed fleet, which was typically financed through aid programs from the country of manufacture. Seven more Douglas DC-3s were added to the fleet between 1959 and 1964. Furthermore, China supplied a couple of Feng Shou-2 aircraft which did not enter scheduled service. Bell Helicopters leased from Singapore were also used for charters. Two Russian Mi-4 helicopters also flew on scheduled routes to remote points. The route network was expanded internally and externally, soon reaching Dhaka in what was then East Pakistan.
In 1966, a turboprop Fokker F27 was added to the airline's fleet.
1970s and 1980s: the jet age and economic boomEdit
Nepal had 181,000 tourist visitors in 1985, of which 80 percent arrived by air. Royal Nepal Airlines carried 38 percent of these tourist passengers, but that number was down from the company's peak market share of 50 percent in 1979. Indian Airlines Corporation was RNAC's main competitor, but newer entrants in the business were also competing with RNAC for market share. These companies included Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, which started direct Kathmandu-Frankfurt service in cooperation with RNAC in October 1987 and now, other airlines are also wanting to do so.
At the time, Royal Nepal Airlines' network connected 38 domestic and 10 international destinations. RNAC was flying directly from Nepal to Hong Kong (home to many Gurkhas employed by the British Army) by 1988 using a Boeing 757. In April 1988, NAC and the Civil Aviation Administration of China cooperated to provide scheduled service between Kathmandu and Lhasa in the autonomous province of Tibet.
RNAC reported revenues of $54.3 million in 1988–89, producing an operating profit of $17 million. With a workforce of 2,200, NAC had become the country's largest employer and largest earner of foreign currency, bringing in roughly $15 million a year from abroad. Seventy-five percent of the company's passengers were foreign tourists. London, Dubai, Dhaka, Karachi, and Bombay were added to the route network during the 1980s.
1990s and 2000s: corruptionEdit
The domestic air market of the country was liberalized in 1992, and new competitors emerged: Necon Air, Cosmic Air, Everest Air, Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines, and Sita Air. Nepal Airlines had its last Boeing 727 flight in 1992. By 1997, these four competitors accounted for 70 percent of Nepal's domestic air traffic.
Adding to the airline's struggles as the millennium approached, were allegations of corruption which periodically surfaced. One case involved Dinesh Dhamija, who later founded the Ebookers Internet travel site. Dhamija had been accused of receiving his post as director of RNAC's European operations in the early 1990s on account of cronyism with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala. Dhamija won a substantial settlement with the airline after a bitter court battle over these charges.
In December 2000, a large scandal revolved around the lease of a Boeing 767 aircraft from Austria's Lauda Air, which entered service in over protests from employees and government officials. The latter claimed the deal was unnecessary, since NAC was not getting enough usage from its two existing Boeing 757s; further, the actual cost per flight hour of the Lauda jet ended up being $5,000 ($1,150 above the cost specified in the contract). RNAC chairman Haribhakta Shrestha was suspended during an investigation, along with other NAC executives; Nepal's tourism and civil aviation minister Tarani Dutt Chataut resigned soon after.
In 2004, it was reported that the Government of Nepal had decided to sell off 49% of its stake in Nepal Airlines, to the private sector, and hand over management control, whilst retaining a 51% share. This would provide the investment to get the airline out of significant debt.
The former chairman of Nepal Airlines, Ramagya Chaturvedi, was jailed for corruption in February 2005.
In September 2007, the airline confirmed that it had sacrificed two goats to appease a Hindu god following technical problems with one of its aircraft. Nepal Airlines said the animals were slaughtered in front of the plane, a Boeing 757, at Tribhuvan International Airport. The offering was made to Akash Bhairab, the Hindu god of sky protection, whose symbol is seen on the company's aircraft. The airline said that after Sunday's ceremony, the plane successfully completed a flight to Hong Kong. Raju KC, an airline official, was quoted as saying: “The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights.” The company did not say what the problem was, but reports in local media had blamed an electrical fault.
From 2000 until 2010, there were no accidents with Nepal Airlines' aircraft involved. This is the longest period without such an incident in the history of the company.
The 2010s: addition of Airbus fleetEdit
In April 2014, Nepal Airlines unveiled new livery after taking delivery of Xian MA-60 aircraft as a gift from AVIC company of China. The "Red and Blue strips" livery were replaced by the new livery which resembles the flag of Nepal.
On 8 February 2015, Nepal Airlines received its first Airbus A320 aircraft, "Sagarmatha" . On 30 April 2015, its second Airbus A320, "Lumbini" landed in Kathmandu. The aircraft was filled with 5 tonnes of aid material flown from the Airbus factory in Hamburg, to Nepal on delivery of the aircraft. The aid material was used in the relief effort for the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Both the aircraft were painted in the company's new livery.
In 2015, Nepal Airlines flew 253,658 travellers, up 22.87 percent compared to the previous year of 206,430 passengers. Similarly, it flew 42,535 domestic air passengers in 2015, increase of 21.60% compared to previous year.
In 2016, the airline's one of the aging Boeing 757-200 (Registration 9N-ACA) retired after three decades of service because of the non-profitable operation with high maintenance cost and sold it to BB Airways. The airline currently operates international flights with its two Airbus A320-200s, two A330-200s.
On 16 July 2017, Nepal Airlines launched online ticket booking service for the international flights.
In 2018, Nepal Airlines acquired two Airbus A330-200s via Hi Fly and AAR Corporation. The first of the two jets arrived at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu on 28 June and the second one on 26 July the same year. The airline plans to expand its international destinations by operating the newly added wide-body jets to cities like Seoul Incheon, Tokyo and Sydney. In November 2018, it was reported that Nepal Airlines was considering Ethiopian Airlines as a strategic partner ahead of a planned reorganization.
In mid-March, NAC retired its only left Boeing 757-200M after three decades of service in order to focus on airbus only fleet. The company is likely to sell the aircraft soon.
Nepal Airlines flies to 10 international and several domestic destinations from its main hub in Tribhuvan International Airport. The airline also operates a few domestic flights from its regional hubs at Biratnagar, Nepalgunj and Pokhara.
|de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter||3||—||—||19||19|
|Aircraft||In service||Exit from service|
|Fokker F27 Friendship||1966||1970|
|Fong Shou-2 Harvester||1963||1965|
|Hawker Siddeley HS-748||1970||1996|
Cabins and servicesEdit
Shangri-La Class is Nepal Airlines' business class on all international flights. Shangri-La Class consists of 16 seats on the Boeing 757 aircraft, 18 seats on Airbus A330 and 8 seats on the Airbus A320 aircraft with a four-abreast configuration. Nepal Airlines serves Shangri-La Class passengers a gourmet meal. Passengers are also provided with an array of drinks to choose, including complementary wine, cocktail, vodka, and a range of soft drinks.
Nepal Airlines serves economy class passengers a meal, with options of either fish, chicken or mutton for their economy class passengers. Passengers can also request the vegetarian meal at the time of reservation. The economy seats in Airbus A330 aircraft are equipped with IFE system with options including 40 Asian movies, 30 TV programs and 20 music album.
All of the Nepal Airlines' domestic fleets are configured with economy class only. Since most of the domestic flights are less than an hour long, passengers are provided with complementary candies and cottons only.
Incidents and accidentsEdit
- 5 November 1960 – A Royal Nepal Airlines Douglas C-47A-80-DL (9N-AAD) crashed on take-off at Bhairawa Airport and caught fire. All 4 crew members died. There were no passengers on board.
- 1 August 1962 – 1962 Royal Nepal Airlines DC-3 crash: A Royal Nepal Airlines Douglas C-47A-DL (9N-AAH) en route from Kathmandu-Gauchaur Airport to New Delhi Airport, radio contact was lost and the aircraft crashed near Tulachan Dhuri. The wreckage was found on 9 August 1962 on a mountain top at 11,200 feet. All four crew and six passengers died.
- 12 July 1969 – 1969 Royal Nepal Airlines DC-3 crash: A Royal Nepal Airlines Douglas DC-3D (9N-AAP) collided with a tree while flying over a cloud covered ridge at 7,300 feet at Hetauda, Nepal. All 4 crew and 31 passengers died.
- 25 January 1970 – A Royal Nepal Airlines Fokker F27-200 (9N-AAR) after a flight from Kathmandu, was caught in severe thunderstorms with turbulence and down draughts on final approach to Delhi (Palam Airport). The pilot couldn't control the aircraft and crashed short of the runway. Of the 5 crew and 18 passengers only one crew member died.
- 10 June 1973 – 1973 Nepal plane hijack: A Royal Nepal Airlines De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (9N-ABB) on a flight from Biratnagar to Kathmandu, was taken over by three hijackers of Nepali Congress party who demanded money and escaped after landing in Bihar, India. None of the three crew and 18 passengers were injured.
- 15 October 1973 – A Royal Nepal Airlines De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (9N-ABG) was damaged beyond repair at Lukla Airport; the three crew and three passengers were unhurt.
- 22 December 1984 – A Royal Nepal Airlines De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (9N-ABH) en route from Tumlingtar Airport to Kathmandu Airport crashed off course near Bhojpur, Nepal. Bad weather and pilot error could have been the cause. All three crew members were killed as well as 12 of the 20 passengers.
- 9 June 1991 – A Royal Nepal Airlines De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (9N-ABA), after a flight from Kathmandu, crashed on landing at Lukla Airport following an unstabilized approach in bad weather. All three crew and 14 passengers were killed.
- 5 July 1992 – A Royal Nepal Airlines De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (9N-ABB), lost directional control on takeoff from Jumla Airport on a flight to Surkhet. The aircraft ran off the runway and struck the airport perimeter fence. None of the three crew were injured and there were no passengers on board.
- 17 January 1995 – A Royal Nepal Airlines De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (9N-ABI), flight RA133 from Kathmandu to Rumjatar, had problems getting airborne at Tribhuvan International Airport, struck the airfield perimeter fence and plunged into fields. Of three crew and 21 passengers, one crew member and one passenger were killed.
- 25 April 1996 – A Royal Nepal Airlines BAe 748 Series 2B (9N-ABR) overran the runway at Meghauli Airport, after a flight from Kathmandu, when landing in rain on the grass airstrip. The aircraft ran across some ditches, causing the nosegear to collapse. None of the 4 crew and 27 passengers were injured.
- 27 July 2000 – 2000 Royal Nepal Airlines Twin Otter crash: A Royal Nepal Airlines De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (9N-ABP), on a flight from Bajhang to Dhangadhi, collided with trees on the 4,300 feet Jarayakhali hill on the Churia mountain range before catching fire. All 3 crew and 22 passengers were killed.
- 19 April 2010 – A Nepal Airlines De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (9N-ABX) on a flight from Kathmandu (KTM) to Phaplu Airport (PPL) (with Kangel Danda as designated alternate airport). The aircraft was unable to land at Phaplu due to poor weather. The crew decided to divert to their alternate airport at Kangel Danda. The airplane touched down on its nose gear first and suffered some minor damage to the nose section.
- 16 May 2013 – Nepal Airlines Flight 555: A Nepal Airlines De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (9N-ABO) from Pokhara (PKR) to Jomsom (JMO) veered left off of the runway after touching down at Jomsom and went down the slope to the Kaligandaki river. The aircraft stopped at the bank of the river, with the left wing in the water. Three crew and four passengers received serious injuries, and 15 passengers received minor or no injuries. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair.
- 16 February 2014 – Nepal Airlines Flight 183: A Nepal Airlines De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter (9N-ABB) went missing en route to Jumla carrying 18 people aboard. It was later confirmed that the plane had crashed in Argakhachi.
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