Nepal Airlines - INTRODUCTION
Nepal Airlines (formerly known as Royal Nepal Airlines) is the flag carrier airline of Nepal. Its head office is in the NAC Building (formerly RNAC Building) in Kathmandu, and its main base is Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu. The airline was established in July 1958 as Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation (RNAC).
The airline's first aircraft was a single 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. In 2004 the Government of Nepal decided to sell off 49% of its stake in Nepal Airlines to the private sector. Presently, the airline operates a fleet of seven aircraft and flies to 39 destinations—seven of which are international.
The aviation history of Nepal started in early 1950's.Initially, neighboring Indian aircraft used to land on a mere cow grazing place called Gaucharan in Kathmandu. There are tales that a pilot waiting to land there had to buzz the airfield several times to shoo the cows off it before landing.
Until 1951, only a few foreigners had penetrated into Nepal. They were mainly British officers of the Gurkha troops, a few stray scholars and friends of the Royal family. Later on, Indian air companies started their operation for business purposes, and connected Nepal with Indian cities. After the establishment of the national flag carrier, the RNA, the route expansion of civil aviation made extensive progress domestically and internationally.
The civil aviation service started in Nepal in 1953 with three old American -made DC-3 Dakotas belonging to an Indian company. After five years, Nepal established her own registered airline, Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation in July 1958 with one DC-3. There were only 96 personnel then. At the beginning,its service was limited to Indian cities like Patna, Calcutta and Delhi in the International Sector and to Simara, Pokhara and Biratnagar in the Domestic Sector. The facilities provided at that time were limited.
Royal Nepal took over an international schedule in 1960. Starting with a fleet of Douglas DC-3's, the airline quickly moved on to the turboprop Fokker F-27.
The commissioning of the remarkable Twin Otter and Pilatus Porter aircraft into the Royal Nepal Airlines fleet in 1970s brought about a quick and easy way of accessing many of the remote regions of the kingdom.
By the early 1970s the airline had introduced Hawker Siddeley HS-748 turboprops, and Boeing 727 jet airliners were introduced in 1972 after Kathmandu's runway had been extended for medium sized jet operations. The Boeing 727s were gradually replaced by Boeing 757s.
At present NAC operates 6 international destinations namely Delhi in India, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur in South East /Far East Asia and Dubai and Doha in Middle East. Direct flights to and from Dubai were resumed from June 17, 2002 and flight Kuala Lumpur are recently operated from March, 31st, 2003. In Domestic operations it connects more than 25 destinations inside Nepal.
More than 90 percent of Nepal's area is covered by mountains. Moreover, Nepal is also landlocked. Without the use of air transport, remote places are cut off from point of view of tourism, food supply and other essential requirement. There are places in Nepal where there are airports, where even though that particular district does not have even a decent road to use bicycles.
The transport system being the main factor for the economic development of the country, and NAC is a strong vehicle for national integration and has proved to be a symbol of freedom movement, both within and outside the country. It is the pride of Nepal.
Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) was incorporated on 1 July 1958 through enactment of Nepal Airlines Corporation Act. 2019 with the following main objective:
to provide air transport service to any person, agency or organization who need such service for transportation of men or materials from one airport to another either within or outside the country.
Profile of Aircrafts used in NAC services.
Douglas DC-3 Dakota
28-seater Dakota, NAC‘s very first aircraft, has become an icon of Nepal‘s aviation history. In many parts of the Kingdom, the people‘s initial encounter with the modern world was the DC-3, long before the cars got here. The last of these planes flew into the sunset in 1973.
Fong Shu Harvester AN-2 This 12-seater Chinese plane joined the fleet in 1963. Nepal Airlines had two of them which were in service for a brief period. They flew on domestic route till 1965.
Pilatus Porter PC-6
This single-engine air craft entered service in 1961. Manufactured in Switzerland, it seated six persons. The plane proved extremely suitable for Nepal‘s mountainous terrain where STOL capability was put to full use. NAC was flying one till 1998.
Fokker Friendship F-27
The Fokker launched Nepal into the turboprop era. In operation from 1966 to 1970, it carried 44 passengers and flew to NAC‘s international destinations. A lot of prestige was attached to travelling in a Fokker in those days.
Hawker Siddley HS-748 Avro
Nepal Airlines obtained its first Avro in 1970. The 44-seater planes were utilized on domestic and international sectors. The immensely popular sight-seeing excursion -the Mountain Flight -were also conducted by Avros.
Twin Otter DHC-6
The arrival of the Twin Otter was another turning point in the Kingdom‘s aviation scenario. Brought into service in 1971, this 19-seater Canadian plane was instrumental in opening up the mountainous interior. It could land and take off from small and rough airstrips. And suddenly, far-flung villages and remote trail-heads were only minutes away.
The nation became the proud possessor of a jet plane carrier with the induction of a Boeing 727 in 1972. People would rush to their roof -tops to watch in awe as the sleek craft came in screaming from beyond the hills. Carrying 123 passengers, it connected Kathmandu with regional destinations and remained in service till 1993.
The first of Nepal Airlines‘ two 757s arrived in 1987. Flying on long-haul routes and displaying the national flag at world airports, they helped Nepal make its presence felt in the international aviation scene. The 757 holds 190 passengers.