Nepal Airlines will welcome its first Chinese-made aircraft next month.
According to a Xinhua report, the Kathmandu-based national carrier will take delivery of its first MA-60 turboprop aircraft on 28 April 2014. This forms part of a deal for six aircraft – two 58-seat MA-60s and four 19-seat Harbin Y12Es – signed in December last year. Following the initial delivery, all aircraft are due to arrive within a year. The deal is being partially financed by Chinese loans.
“We will bring the first Chinese plane into operation within the first week of May,” Nepal Airlines spokesperson, Ram Hari Sharma told Xinhua.
The MA-60 will replace a Twin Otter aircraft that was destroyed in a fatal crash in February 2014. But the MA-60 itself has been beset with safely issues in recent years, often involving its landing gear. The aircraft, which is manufactured by the state-owned Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation, was only recently cleared to resume operations in China, after it was grounded for almost two weeks in the wake of two separate safety incidents.
All of the new Chinese aircraft will be deployed on domestic routes, flying to destinations including Biratnagar, Pokhara, Bhairawaha, Bhadrapur, Dhangadi and Nepalgunj, direct from Kathmandu.