|A China-made air carrier, a 58-seater Modern Ark 60 (MA60), lands on Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 27, 2014. The long wait of Nepal government to receive the first China-made air carrier has been over Sunday afternoon with the landing of MA60 at Tribhuvan International Airport. (Xinhua/Sunil Sharma)|
KATHMANDU, April 27 (Xinhua) -- The long wait of Nepal government to receive the first China-made air carrier has finally been over Sunday afternoon with the landing of a 58-seater Modern Ark 60 (MA60) at the country's only international airport.
The aircraft that took off from China's Kunming finally arrived to the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu at 1:14 p.m. local time. The plane was operated by two American pilots.
The arrival of first Chinese plane in the Himalayan country from the northern neighbor has given a sense of relief to the Nepali stakeholders as the country's national flag carrier has remained with only one aircraft at the moment.
Nepal's Aviation Secretary Sushil Ghimire, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Wu Chuntai, Chief of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) Madan Kharel and other high level government officials reached the TIA to receive and welcome the Chinese aircraft.
This is the first time that NAC has been procuring any new aircraft since it bought a twin otter in 1984.
"We are really happy at this moment," NAC Spokesperson Ram Hari Sharma told Xinhua by phone from TIA after welcoming the aircraft, "The plane is now under the possession of Nepal government which will hand over to NAC tomorrow amidst a formal programme."
He said the MA60 will come to commercial operation within a week following its test flight in Nepali skies.
Earlier on December 28 last year, the Nepal government had signed an agreement with its Chinese counterpart to procure and purchase six China-made airplanes, according to which Nepal will acquire two aircrafts, a 19-seater Harbin Y12E and a 58-seater Modern Ark 60 (MA60), on grant and three Harbin Y12E and a MA60 on concessional loan.
According to the NAC, Chinese authorities will dispatch the second air craft, a 19-seater Harbin Y12E on June 30, another MA60 on September 30 and all other remaining three Harbin Y12E on October 28 this year.
The NAC said it has begun preparations to ensure sound operation with plans to make direct flights to all destinations across the country. All of the China-made aircrafts will be used for domestic flights connecting a number of destinations, including Biratnagar, Pokhara, Bhairawaha, Bhadrapur, Dhangadi and Nepalgunj, directly from Kathmandu after one and a half decade of halting the operation in these destinations.
Xi'an Aircraft Industries Corporation is the maker of MA60, which was first manufactured in 2000. More than 80 MA60 planes are being used by several air service providers in many countries across Asia, Africa and South America.