Nepal Airlines is selling Chinese planes that were acquired for a whopping 6.66 billion Nepalese Rupees (US$50 million) at a “junkyard price.”As per top officials, cited by Nepalese news portal Kathmandu Post, the grounded planes “have been more trouble than they are worth.”
Nepal acquired a total of six planes from China between 2014 and 2018. Since then, one plane has crashed. The remaining five aircraft are grounded, including two 56-seater MA60 and three 17-seater Y12e.
The China-made aircraft are plagued by breakdowns. Due to a high maintenance cost, operating them became extremely expensive for debt-ridden Nepal Airlines. Adding to that, a persistent shortage of suitable pilots and unreliability due to the crashing accident further led the officials to get rid of the planes as soon as possible. The planes have been grounded for at least three years.
In July 2020, the state-owned carrier felt it had had enough, and put all of them in deep storage.Nepal Airlines has now put the aircraft up for sale at a mere 220 million Nepalese Rupees (US$1.65 million). This price was determined by an independent international assessor, according to a highly-placed source at Nepal Airlines Corporation cited by Kathmandu Post.
The financially-stretched company further paid $20,000 for the valuation report.The decision to sell the planes off was taken after a proposal to lease them out fell flat.According to an official at the Tourism Ministry cited by Kathmandu Post, the Nepal Airlines board is not pleased with the idea of selling the costly planes at such a low price. “Now everyone is in a dilemma, including the Nepal Airlines board, which is reluctant to consent to sell the planes at the throwaway price,” said the official.
But Nepal Airlines insists that the planes are not feasible to fly and that selling them off is the only option available. It must be noted that planes can only be sold after the Nepal Airlines board grants approval.“The report sent a month ago has not been approved by the Nepal Airlines board. Without their approval, the process to sell the planes cannot move forward,” said the official at the Tourism Ministry.