KATHMANDU, Nov 8: On the final day of two-day talks, Airbus on Wednesday expressed readiness to rework on the old aircraft procurement deal that Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) signed with it three years ago, following which the national flag carrier placed request for two narrow body aircraft, as per the decision of the government.
During the talks, NAC officials requested the visiting Airbus officials to terminate the past deal, which landed into controversy, but sources said the Airbus officials refused to do that.
“They said they would provide NAC with whatever type of aircraft it needs as per the agreement the two firms signed in October 2009,” said Raju KC, acting managing director of the NAC, who led the talks from Nepal side.
However, after NAC briefed that its requirement over these years has changed and the government too has mandated it to go for two narrow body aircraft, the Airbus team agreed to rework on the past agreement.
“If we went on with the deal, they (Airbus officials) said they will tailor the deal as per our requirement,” said a source.
Following such assurance, NAC officials on the day placed their new procurement proposal, under which they asked Airbus to supply two 150-seater A320-200 series aircraft to the national flag carrier.
“Airbus officials said they would support us in fulfilling our request,” KC told Republica. He further said Airbus officials even expressed readiness to provide two narrow-body aircraft at previously quoted price of US$ 41.28 million each.
Officials said the two-day talks helped NAC to iron out its differences with Airbus. “Its assurance has also paved the way early procurement of two narrow-body aircraft,” said the source.
However, as NAC alone cannot take the final decision on the procurement, its officials said they would immediately brief the government about the talks" outcome and its request for fresh order in order to get its approval.
“We will forward a formal proposal to this connection to the government via Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) soon,” said KC.
NAC would carry forward its negotiations on other issues once the government formally endorses its proposal.
The national flag carrier had initiated talks for the aircraft procurement after Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai last month instructed the MoCTCA to start process to get two narrow body aircraft for the national flag carrier. Following this, NAC had invited Airbus officials for talks mainly to know their stance on the past procurement deal.
The NAC in October, 2009 had decided to purchase two aircraft -- one narrow and one wide body. But the process had hit snag after Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) filed case against the top NAC officials charging them of flouting Public Procurement Act and sending lock up money of $75,000 without following due procedures.
Following the controversy, the European manufacturer returned the non-refundable lock up money to NAC in March, 2011 and that had enabled the officials to get the clean chit from the Apex court. However, officials were still reluctant to go on with the deal as Public Accounts Committee of the parliament in December 2009 asked NAC to terminate the deal.