Nepali Times Asian Paints
Where old planes go to die



Old planes that were once a part of Nepal's aviation history lie scattered, scavenged, cannibalised, picked clean for spare parts.

Of the 10 abandoned planes in this aviation junkyard is the veteran of the Nepal skies: "Alpha Uniform" one of the very first Hawker Siddeley 748 manufactured in 1969 and acquired by Royal Nepal Airlines.

It's a story of how far we have regressed in Nepal that the then head of Royal Nepal Airlines is said to have got the manufacturer in 1970 to cut the price by 15 per cent by getting Hawker Siddeley to agree to minus the sales commission. Alpha Uniform with its sister ship, "Alpha Victor" served RNAC well, flying international routes to Delhi and domestic destinations as well as the popular Mt Everest sightseeing flights for more than 25 years.

Victor is stored at the Nepal Airlines hangar, but Uniform is here rotting away slowly in the sun with other planes from the private airlines that flew high briefly after privatisation in 1990 and then went belly-up. The planes of Royal Nepal Airlines, Necon Air, Nepal Airways, Everest Air and Cosmic Air are a mute testimony to the political interference that bled the national airline dry, and the unscrupulous tycoons who looted shareholder investment.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) seems to be aware that the plane junkyard is unsightly and is offering them up for auction to scrap dealers. Some of the private airlines still owe CAAN millions in unpaid fees, but they may have to be written off. Only Yeti Airlines has agreed to remove its SAAB 42.

"The airline companies are supposed to pay accumulated parking fees," says Shyam Sundar Bhakta Shrestha deputy managing director of the airport, "but since the planes are junked there is no chance of getting operators to pay up." CAAN has received bids for only two of the Nepal Airways Y-12s and no one seems to want the Dorniers, Fokker 100 and other planes even to sell to aluminium scrap merchants. Nepal Airlines wants to hand over the other Avro to the proposed Civil Aviation Academy.

The reason scrap dealers are not interested is because whatever they bid for, the airline will first have to clear its dues to CAAN. Cosmic Air alone owes the airport Rs 20 million. Shrestha says the planes will be removed if there are no bids and the space leased to private airlines which need hangar space.

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1. Puspa
Its a pity that old and 'dead' planes lie scattered in a miserable conditions. However, these could be utilised for many purpose. Firstly, there is short of a good leisure area for children in Kathmandu. These can be assembled in a nice shelter to make an Aviation Museum. Avian activists and techs can also use such venues for raising awareness about flight safety, which is highly relevant in the context of Nepal. These also can be part of research for interested ones, if properly detailed with why the plane became grounded and discarded. It will generate money while not in the sky!

2. Amrit Bhandari

Thank you Devan jee for raising this issue. I am not sure the exact date; however, I had also raised the same issue that we can see a number of cars and other vehicles here and there in government offices, ministry and other places. The old ones remained unrepaired; however the important parts already stolen. No one in the concerned offices knows where such valuable and important parts went. However, who took such parts and where such parts were used, is known by the ordinary people. If we ask to the people they say the corrupt personnel working in the same office stole these parts. No one bothers to repair such vehicles, instead they want new one because if they buy new one they can take both the benefit out of them one in new one they can ride and show their power and one from old one they can take undue advantages by selling the important parts.


Once again thank you for raising this issues and hope to read more such news about government owned vehicles scattered here and there in government offices.        


3. Raju lama
Old can turn into gold using it into aviation museum, using as ornament in the parks where people hang out which saves our history of aviation in Nepal. Trash can turn into cash. Isn't there any organization in our country to do so?

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)