KATHMANDU, May 13: After bringing one of the two grounded Twin Otters leased from Nepal Airlines Corporation into operation, Tara Air has said it plans to operate scheduled flights to remote destinations where the airline was limiting its operation to chartered flights despite high demand from passengers.
NAC had leased its two grounded Twin Otters to Tara Air on January. Both the aircraft had remained grounded for more than a decade.
Tara Air is operating more than a dozen flights a day mainly on rural destinations like Lukla, Phaplu, Manang, Simikot, Jumla, Jomsom, Pokhara, Dolpa, Lamidanda, Surkhet, Rumjatar and Manthali. Officials of the airline said they were facing difficulty in operating scheduled flights to these destinations due to lack of aircraft.
With two leased Twin Otters, the airline now has a fleet of seven aircraft, including a Dornier and a Pilatus Porter.
Saral Shumsher JB Rana, deputy director of Tara Air, said one of the leased Twin Otter - the aircraft with call sign 9N ABM - was pressed into service on Saturday, following successful test flight on Wednesday. “Another Twin Otter with call sign 9N ABQ is undergoing an overhaul. We are hopeful of bringing it into operation within three weeks,” he said.
Rana said the operation of new aircraft would directly benefit rural population and support development activities in rural areas.
The overhaul of the aircraft was carried at Tara Air´s own hangar with help of local as well as foreign technicians. Rana said the repaired aircraft meets the standard requirement of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) as well as International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The aircraft, which will be based in Nepalgunj, will fly to destinations in mid-western region.
As per the lease agreement, Tara Air has to pay US$ 24,000 per aircraft per month to NAC for the first seven years. The airlines will have to pay additional $2,000 per aircraft per month for the remaining three years.