Nepal Airlines to sell five faulty Chinese aircraft


The national airline of Nepal has made the decision to sell the Chinese aircraft that it has been trying to maintain due to frequent failures.

These aircraft were assigned to the state-owned Nepal Airlines and are now confined to a remote area of the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.

Nepal Airlines
Nepal bought five aircraft from China amid a fanfare, which is grounded at a remote-area of Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu

China delivered the first batch of aircraft to Nepal in 2014. Nepal Airlines bought three 17-seater Y12e and two 56-seater MA60 aircraft amid much fanfare during that time. 

The Nepali government has already agreed to several infrastructure and energy projects worth $2.4 billion with China. China is also working on enlarging the airports in Lumbini and Pokhara, Nepal.

The primary objective was to use the aircraft on underutilised mountain routes. However, technical and mechanical issues began to appear in aeroplanes on a regular basis. The airline company claims that this resulted in significant losses because the aircraft spent more time on the ground than in the air. Five of these planes, according to The Kathmandu Post, which cited officials, “were the most expensive white elephants in the carrier’s history.”

Also read: China made aircraft, a headache for Nepal airlines

Nepal Airlines has chosen to sell five of its Chinese aircraft that have been grounded for more than two years due to concerns about the effectiveness and quality of Chinese-made aircraft.

The three 17-seaters and two 56-seaters were leased by Nepal Airlines in September with a deadline of October 31. Even after the deadline was extended, no bidders submitted a bid.

It has now made the decision to sell these grounded aircraft.

According to Nepal Airlines spokesperson Archana Khadka, an international assessor will be appointed, to evaluate the fair market worth of the aircraft. This will happen after Nepal’s election that took place on Sunday, November 20. 

Two 56-seater MA60 aircraft were purchased from China by Nepal Airlines, now in regret

Earlier this year, a source had told WION that the airline lacked the necessary pilots with the necessary abilities to operate the Chinese aircraft.

“We have been facing technical problems in the functioning of these aircraft. The spare parts are not easily available and repairing aircraft is expensive and time taking. To fly these planes, pilots with specific skills are required which we are short of. There are pilots in China but due to the language barrier training pilots in Nepal is not possible.”


China had also declined to support the Nepalese side in this matter.

“We did approach China for help but nothing has been initiated from their side yet. The board of directors of Nepal Airlines hold a meeting on a daily basis to discuss training Nepalese pilots but we are yet to take a decision on that.”


Corrosion has already started to appear on a few of the planes. Instead of going to the trouble of getting the planes airworthy again, the subsequent owner will probably use them as spare components.

“No doubt, the planes can fly. It was a management problem that the shiny new planes never flew for the purpose they were brought.”

“Now, years after they were acquired, it is wise to sell them rather than keep them in storage.”

“If the planes begin to rust, they will become scrap.”

–Ashok Pokhrel, a former board member of Nepal Airlines
frequent failures of chinese aircraft, Nepal Airlines decided to sell
Nepal Airlines was at a loss as Chinese planes began to rust

Due to the limited aftermarket support for these aircraft, which has been revealed by the airline’s experience with them, many operators have chosen to purchase aircraft made by well-known western manufacturers.

(With inputs from WION and The Kathmandu Post)