5:27 AM

Nobody knows when NAC will get new jet

Posted by Chamling Ashal

Manesh Shrestha
KATHMANDU, April 1 - With the cancellation of bids for leasing a Boeing 757 by Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) last week, the process of acquiring an aircraft has begun anew. But it is uncertain how long this is going to take. Rather than leasing a jet, NAC now plans to buy two brand new planes with government support.
In his budget speech last September, Finance Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai had said that the government would help NAC get two jet aircraft. NAC officials said that it plans to get a narrow-body aircraft first and then a wide body one. A narrow body jet costs about US$ 50 to 60 million while a wide-body is prices at about US$ 150 million.
Aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing both take about two years to deliver an aircraft after an order is placed. But the bureaucratic process to actually place the final order will take at least a few months, and airline officials hope that this will be done by mid-July before the fiscal year ends. "We are in informal talks with both Boeing and Airbus; and they have indicated that because of the global recession, there may be some order cancellations and it may not take two years to get a new jet," said Raju Bahadur K.C., NAC corporate director.
However, if it takes too long to buy an aircraft from the manufacturers, NAC will have no option but to lease one.
Before a global tender is announced to buy a new aircraft, NAC will have to get the board's permission. The NAC management will need to prepare a strategy based on its business plan and present it to the board. This will contain, among other things, the plane's seat capacity and the sectors it will fly on. This will take about 15 days. Getting the board's permission could take up to another 15 days. At present, NAC has not even finalized the schedule for the acquisition of the aircraft and prepared a full strategy.
"We hope to have the board's approval by mid-April," said K.C. Potential bidders will then have to be given a time limit of 45 days to submit their offers which will lengthen the process to mid-June. The bids will then be evaluated by a committee giving weightage to different criteria like price, delivery date and suitability; and this will again more time. The selected bidder will then be invited for negotiations.
NAC will have to complete the entire process by mid-July before the fiscal year ends because the purchase of two aircraft is in the current year's government programme. "But if the aircraft companies take a long time for delivery, then we may have to opt for leasing one again," said K.C.
NAC had to cancel the bids last week after hidden costs were discovered while negotiating with North American Airlines (NAA). "The quotation said that the wet lease would cost US$ 3,690 per hour, but they wanted to change the cabin crew every 14 days according to the company's regulations," said K.C.
Factoring in the costs of flying in and out the three crews of 10 members each from New York every 14 days would mean an extra US$ 730 per hour, he said.
There had been an agreement with NAA that the US$ 730 would be divided between the two parties but NAC did not agree, K. C. said.
Although NAC does not admit it, there were also possibilities of legal problems arising from NAC's dealing with NAA since it was not one of the bidders, but the four qualified bidders had all offered the same aircraft belonging to NAA. Earlier, NAC managing director Sugat Ratna Kansakar had said that it would be better to deal with the actual owner than agents and save the commission.
"We decided to do this because there were four different signatures on behalf of NAA granting permission to the agents to bid," said K.C. "We were not sure which signature was the authentic one

प्रधानमन्त्रीको भनाइमा आपत्ति

काठमाडौं, चैत २७ - प्रधानमन्त्री पुष्पकमल दाहालले 'ठूला मिडिया तस्करले सञ्चालन गरेको र तिनले जनतालाई दिग्भ्रमित पार्न खोजेको' आरोप लगाएकामा सञ्चारगृह सञ्चालक एवं अधिकारकर्मीले आपत्ति जनाएका छन् ।

सञ्चार माध्यमका सञ्चालकहरूको बुधबार बसेको संयुक्त बैठकले दाहालको भनाइमा दुःख व्यक्त गरेको हो । रेडियो मिर्मिरेको पहिलो वाषिर्कोत्सवमा मंगलबार प्रधानमन्त्रीले यस्तो विवादास्पद टिप्पणी गरेका थिए ।

बैठकपछि जारी विज्ञप्तिमा देशका सम्मानित प्रधानमन्त्रीको मिडियाप्रतिको नकारात्मक सोच र अभिव्यक्तिले दुःखी बनाएको उल्लेख छ । 'सम्पूर्ण मिडियाको मानमर्दन गर्ने, होच्याउने तथा सञ्चार प्रतिष्ठानलाई तुच्छ एवं भ्रष्टको श्रेणीमा राख्दै गरिएको गैरजिम्मेवार सम्बोधनले गणतन्त्र ल्याउन संघर्षको कठिन घडीमा समेत महत्त्वपूर्ण भूमिका निर्वाह गर्दै आएको सञ्चार प्रतिष्ठानलाई अपमानित र पीडाबोध गराएको छ,' विज्ञप्तिमा भनिएको छ ।

भविष्यमा मिडियाप्रति सकारात्मक हुन पनि विज्ञप्तिमा आग्रह गरिएको छ । बैठकमा नेपाल मिडिया सोसाइटी, टेलिभिजन ब्रोडकास्टर्स एसोसिएसन नेपाल, सामुदायिक रेडियो प्रसारक संघ, ब्रोडकास्टिङ एसोसिएसन अफ नेपाल तथा काठमाडौं भ्याली ब्रोडकास्टिङ एसोसिएसन सहभागी थिए ।

प्रधानमन्त्रीको भनाइको नेपाल पत्रकार महासंघ तथा अधिकारवादीहरूले पनि विरोध जनाएका छन् । महासंघ अध्यक्ष धर्मेन्द्र झाले प्रधानमन्त्रीको अभिव्यक्तिले पत्रकार र पत्रिकाको स्वाभिमान र मर्यादामा प्रहार गरेको बताए । 'तस्करले सञ्चालन गरेको प्रमाण भए कारबाही गरेर देखाउनु पर्‍यो, बिनाप्रमाण बोल्नु हुँदैन,' उनले भने, 'कारबाही गर्न नसक्ने भए ती शब्द फिर्ता लिनुपर्छ ।'

अधिकारकर्मी देवेन्द्रराज पाण्डेले प्रधानमन्त्रीको भनाइ गैरजिम्मेवार रहेको बताए । मानव अधिकार तथा शान्ति समाजका अध्यक्ष पुरुषोत्तम दाहालले माओवादीले प्रेस स्वतन्त्रताप्रति प्रतिबद्धता जनाए पनि प्रधानमन्त्रीले मर्यादापूर्ण शब्द प्रयोग गर्ने नगरेको प्रतिक्रिया दिए ।

प्रधानमन्त्रीका प्रेस सल्लाहकार ओम शर्माले दाहालको भनाइ अहिलेका ठूला मिडिया हाउसप्रति लक्षित नभएको प्रस्टीकरण दिए । 'तस्करहरू मिडियामा लगानी गरेर सुरक्षित हुन सक्छन, त्यसबाट सचेत रहनुपर्छ भन्ने उहाँको भनाइ हो,' उनले प्रस्ट्याए, 'लोकतन्त्रका लागि ठूला मिडियाले खेलेको भूमिका बिर्सिन सकिन्न

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