The national carrier ordered two A320s in 2013, in a bid to boost its flagging operations. It lost two Twin Otter aircraft in accidents in 2013 and 2014 and was suffering from a lack of aircraft.
But the arrival of two new Chinese turboprops last year and now the A320 have built Nepal Airlines’ fleet back up to seven aircraft. It also has outstanding orders for a further four Chinese aircraft – one 56-seat Xian MA-60 and three 19-seat Harbin Y-12s.
A second new A320 is also scheduled to be delivered in April 2015. Both of these new single-aisle jets come equipped with ‘Sharklets’ – Airbus‘ wing-tip extensions that are designed to improve fuel economy.
“Aviation is our window to the world and the world’s window to explorers, trekkers, cultural and ecological visitors to… Nepal,” said Madan Kharel, managing director of Nepal Airlines. “Our new A320 with Sharklets will help us to expand air services in the region, to increase capacity and to capitalise in the growth of high value tourism by offering our visitors world class comfort and service levels.”
The new single-aisle A320s come fitted with 158 seats in two classes – eight in business class and 150 in economy. They also feature Required Navigation Performance (RNP) capability, which enables the aircraft to fly precisely along predefined routes – an essential tool in Nepal’s treacherous mountainous landscape.
“For a landlocked nation like Nepal, aviation is a lifeline to the rest of the world. Few examples can better illustrate the importance of aviation as a force for economic development,” said John Leahy, Airbus’ chief operating officer. “We are delighted to welcome Nepal Airlines to our family of A320 operators.”