Nepal Airlines (RA, Kathmandu) has retired all six of its Chinese-made aircraft - two MA-60s and four Y12Es - as of July 16, 2020, due to the types' sub-standard performance and high operating costs, The Kathmandu Post has reported.

"The board decision is purely aimed at preventing ballooning losses in the future, which has till now reached NPR2 billion rupees (USD16.6 million) — mostly in insurance and operating costs. The corporation cannot afford to fly them anymore," board member Achyut Pahari said.

Pahari further alleged that the aircraft should never have been acquired by the airline as their performance did not suit Nepalese topography and infrastructure.

"[The 2012 decision to buy the aircraft] was prompted by greed for commissions. [The Nepali experts] submitted a fabricated report. The Y12E was compared with the Twin Otter, and the MA60 was compared with the ATR72. Nepal Airlines is paying the price now," Pahair stated.

Under the terms of the 2012 deal, the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the parent of Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation and Xian Aircraft Company, agreed to deliver one unit of each type as a gift to Nepal, worth NPR2.9 billion (USD24.4 million). The other one MA-60 and three Y12Es were acquired by Nepal Airlines for a total consideration of NPR3.7 billion (USD30.7 million) provided through a soft loan by EXIM Bank of China.

However, since their delivery in 2014, the aircraft have been barely used in Nepal Airlines' operations due to the lack of qualified pilots and technical problems. In addition, the Y12Es, contrary to the DHC-6s, are ill-suited to serve Nepal's mountain airports with their short runways and extremely high elevations.

Nepal Airlines has been trying to offload the Y12Es to the Nepal Army Air Wing (Kathmandu).

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, the Nepalese carrier's turboprop fleet currently consists of three DHC-6-300s, which are 35.6-years-old on average.

For the time being, the carrier does not, however, need any of these aircraft, as domestic flights in Nepal remain suspended through at least July 21. While all international services are also halted, Nepal Airlines have been operating repatriation and cargo charters into Kathmandu. The airline suspended these flights effective July 13 after seven staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

"We [had] repatriation charter flights scheduled until July 12. After that, we have decided to have a brief suspension. The temporary break may be for eight to 10 days," spokesperson Archana Khadka said.