Three OEMs have reportedly responded to a request for proposal (RFP) issued by Nepal Airlines (RA, Kathmandu) to supply three short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft, according to an airline spokesperson.

Ramesh Poudel told Kathmandu's Onlinekhabar outlet that Czechia's Let Kunovice, India's Hindustan Aeronautics, and De Havilland Aircraft of Canada had all responded to the RFP by the December 5, 2023, deadline. Let Kunovice manufactures the 19-passenger Let 410 and L410 UVP-E20, while Hindustan Aeronautics offers the 17-passenger Do228, which it manufactures under licence. de Havilland put forward their Twin Otter product and potentially has a competitive advantage as Nepal Airlines presently operates two DHC-6-300s and has operated others previously. ch-aviation has contacted the OEMs for comment.

Nepal Airlines wants to increase its domestic market share by investing in more aircraft capable of handling the country's many short runways. Measured by weekly seat capacity data available in the ch-aviation capacities module, the state-owned carrier has a 0.14% market share and is currently comprehensively outgunned by market leader Buddha Air, as well as by Yeti Airlines, Shree Airlines, Saurya Airlines, Summit Air (Nepal), and Sita Air. ch-aviation schedules data shows Nepal Airlines' current scheduled domestic operations consist of once-weekly roundtrips between Kathmandu and Bhairahawa. The airline is also known to run other irregular domestic DHC-3-600 flights but says despite demand, additional scheduled flights are not viable because of a lack of aircraft. Of the existing DHC-6-300s, one, 9N-ABU (msn 814), is known to be grounded at Talcha because of engine issues.

Nepal Airlines says it will pay the STOL aircraft acquisition costs from its internal financial resources and will not require any significant assistance from government or lenders. The airline is reported to have some real estate interests in Nepal, which it intends to sell to cover the acquisition costs.