The executive chairman of Nepal Airlines (RA, Kathmandu) told a gathering in Kathmandu this week that the state-owned airline is ready, willing, and able to acquire up to three new aircraft to bolster its domestic network.

Speaking at an event on January 23 to welcome Nepal's new tourism minister and final decision maker on aircraft acquisitions, Yuvraj Adhikari said the financial condition of Nepal Airlines had improved, and pending ministerial approval, he would like to purchase "up to three aircraft" to improve service quality and aid the responsible structural reform of the state-owned carrier.

In January 2022, Nepal Airlines revealed a five-year plan to acquire up to 32 aircraft, including 18 regional aircraft for domestic flying, subject to securing government funding to pay for them. But that funding never materialised. Instead, the Nepalese government began pushing through a series of reforms, initiated investigations, and made leadership changes at the airline in an attempt to turn around the chronically loss-making carrier.

By mid-2022, a new general manager was promising a revised business plan and, even more promisingly, began paying down the airline's debt of NPR47 billion Nepali rupees (USD359.8 million dollars). Late last year, after trying to lease out their five Chinese-made turboprop aircraft, Nepal Airlines also initiated a strategy to sell the planes, issuing a RFP concerning two MA-60s and three Y12s. The airline cited high operational costs, poor reliability, as well as a limited number of type-rated pilots as factors behind the decision.

This week, Adhikari indicated that the present Nepal Airlines leadership had a dual role - to speed up structural reform of the airline, including financial reform, while also fulfilling the airline's role as the national flag carrier. While he wants the airline to be "capable and strong," it should also "fulfil its national responsibility." ch-aviation has contacted Nepal Airlines regarding Adhikari's comments this week about new aircraft.