Nepal Airlines Corporation (Nepali: नेपाल वायुसेवा निगम), formerly known as Royal Nepal Airlines (Nepali: शाही नेपाल वायुसेवा), is the flag carrier of Nepal. Founded in 1958, it is the oldest airline of the country. Out of its main base at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, the airline operates domestic services within Nepal and medium-haul services in Asia. The airline's first aircraft was a Douglas DC-3, used to serve domestic routes and a handful of destinations in India. The airline acquired its first jet aircraft, Boeing 727s, in 1972. As of 25 August 2019,[1] the airline operates a fleet of thirteen aircraft. Since 2013, the airline has been on the list of air carriers banned in the European Union.[2]

Nepal Airlines
नेपाल वायुसेवा
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded1 July 1958; 61 years ago (1958-07-01), as Royal Nepal Airlines
AOC #003/2000
HubsTribhuvan International Airport
Secondary hubs
Fleet size13
Company sloganNew World (Nepali: नयॉं संसार)
Parent companyGovernment of Nepal
HeadquartersKantipath, Kathmandu, Province No. 3, Nepal
Key peopleMadan Kharel
(Executive Chairman)


1950s and 1960s: early yearsEdit

Royal Nepal Airlines HS 748 at Calcutta Dum Dum Airport in 1974

The airline was established in July 1958 as Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation with one Douglas DC-3. At the beginning, its services were limited to Simara, Pokhara and destinations to India such as Patna, Calcutta and Delhi. In 1961, Pilatus Porter STOL aircraft joined the fleet, and in 1963 12-seater Chinese Feng Shou-2 Harvesters were brought into service, opening up the kingdom's more remote routes.[3]

Nepal's geopolitical situation produced a strange, politically mixed fleet, which was typically financed through aid programs from the country of manufacture. Seven more Douglas DC-3s were added to the fleet between 1959 and 1964. Furthermore, China supplied a couple of Feng Shou-2 aircraft which did not enter scheduled service. Bell Helicopters leased from Singapore were also used for charters. Two Russian Mi-4 helicopters also flew on scheduled routes to remote points. The route network was expanded internally and externally, soon reaching Dhaka in what was then East Pakistan.[4]

In 1966, a turboprop Fokker F27 was added to the airline's fleet.

1970s and 1980s: the jet age and economic boomEdit

In 1970, RNAC acquired its first Hawker Siddeley HS-748 followed by Twin Otters in 1971 and Boeing 727s in 1972. Two Boeing 757s gradually replaced the airline's Boeing 727s in 1987.[3]

Royal Nepal Airlines Boeing 727-100 at Don Muang Airport in 1986

Nepal had 181,000 tourist visitors in 1985, of which 80 percent arrived by air. Royal Nepal Airlines carried 38 percent of these tourist passengers, but that number was down from the company's peak market share of 50 percent in 1979. Indian Airlines Corporation was RNAC's main competitor, but newer entrants in the business were also competing with RNAC for market share. These companies included Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, which started direct Kathmandu-Frankfurt service in cooperation with RNAC in October 1987 and now, other airlines are also wanting to do so.

At the time, Royal Nepal Airlines' network connected 38 domestic and 10 international destinations. RNAC was flying directly from Nepal to Hong Kong (home to many Gurkhas employed by the British Army) by 1988 using a Boeing 757. In April 1988, NAC and the Civil Aviation Administration of China cooperated to provide scheduled service between Kathmandu and Lhasa in the autonomous province of Tibet.[4]

RNAC reported revenues of $54.3 million in 1988–89, producing an operating profit of $17 million. With a workforce of 2,200, NAC had become the country's largest employer and largest earner of foreign currency, bringing in roughly $15 million a year from abroad. Seventy-five percent of the company's passengers were foreign tourists. London, Dubai, Dhaka, Karachi, and Bombay were added to the route network during the 1980s.[4]

1990s and 2000s: corruptionEdit

The domestic air market of the country was liberalized in 1992, and new competitors emerged: Necon Air, Cosmic Air, Everest Air, Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines, and Sita Air. Nepal Airlines had its last Boeing 727 flight in 1992. By 1997, these four competitors accounted for 70 percent of Nepal's domestic air traffic.[5]

Adding to the airline's struggles as the millennium approached, were allegations of corruption which periodically surfaced. One case involved Dinesh Dhamija, who later founded the Ebookers Internet travel site. Dhamija had been accused of receiving his post as director of RNAC's European operations in the early 1990s on account of cronyism with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala. Dhamija won a substantial settlement with the airline after a bitter court battle over these charges.[4]

In December 2000, a large scandal revolved around the lease of a Boeing 767 aircraft from Austria's Lauda Air, which entered service in over protests from employees and government officials. The latter claimed the deal was unnecessary, since NAC was not getting enough usage from its two existing Boeing 757s; further, the actual cost per flight hour of the Lauda jet ended up being $5,000 ($1,150 above the cost specified in the contract). RNAC chairman Haribhakta Shrestha was suspended during an investigation, along with other NAC executives; Nepal's tourism and civil aviation minister Tarani Dutt Chataut resigned soon after.[4]

In 2004, it was reported that the Government of Nepal had decided to sell off 49% of its stake in Nepal Airlines, to the private sector, and hand over management control, whilst retaining a 51% share. This would provide the investment to get the airline out of significant debt.[6]

The former chairman of Nepal Airlines, Ramagya Chaturvedi, was jailed for corruption in February 2005.[7]

In September 2007, the airline confirmed that it had sacrificed two goats to appease a Hindu god following technical problems with one of its aircraft. Nepal Airlines said the animals were slaughtered in front of the plane, a Boeing 757, at Tribhuvan International Airport. The offering was made to Akash Bhairab, the Hindu god of sky protection, whose symbol is seen on the company's aircraft. The airline said that after Sunday's ceremony, the plane successfully completed a flight to Hong Kong. Raju KC, an airline official, was quoted as saying: “The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights.” The company did not say what the problem was, but reports in local media had blamed an electrical fault.[8]

From 2000 until 2010, there were no accidents with Nepal Airlines' aircraft involved. This is the longest period without such an incident in the history of the company.

The 2010s: addition of Airbus fleetEdit

Nepal Airlines Boeing 757-200 wearing old livery.

In 2009, at the Dubai Airshow, Nepal Airlines signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire two Airbus A320-200 aircraft with the plans to operate flights to the Middle East and Southeast Asia.[9]

In April 2014, Nepal Airlines unveiled new livery after taking delivery of Xian MA-60 aircraft as a gift from AVIC company of China. The "Red and Blue strips" livery were replaced by the new livery which resembles the flag of Nepal.

On 8 February 2015, Nepal Airlines received its first Airbus A320 aircraft, "Sagarmatha" . On 30 April 2015, its second Airbus A320, "Lumbini" landed in Kathmandu. The aircraft was filled with 5 tonnes of aid material flown from the Airbus factory in Hamburg, to Nepal on delivery of the aircraft. The aid material was used in the relief effort for the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Both the aircraft were painted in the company's new livery.

In 2015, Nepal Airlines flew 253,658 travellers, up 22.87 percent compared to the previous year of 206,430 passengers.[10] Similarly, it flew 42,535 domestic air passengers in 2015, increase of 21.60% compared to previous year.[11]

In 2016, the airline's one of the aging Boeing 757-200 (Registration 9N-ACA) retired after three decades of service because of the non-profitable operation with high maintenance cost and sold it to BB Airways. The airline currently operates international flights with its two Airbus A320-200s, two A330-200s.

On 16 July 2017, Nepal Airlines launched online ticket booking service for the international flights.

In 2018, Nepal Airlines acquired two Airbus A330-200s via Hi Fly and AAR Corporation. The first of the two jets arrived at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu on 28 June[12] and the second one on 26 July[13] the same year. The airline plans to expand its international destinations by operating the newly added wide-body jets to cities like Seoul Incheon, Tokyo and Sydney. In November 2018, it was reported that Nepal Airlines was considering Ethiopian Airlines as a strategic partner ahead of a planned reorganization.[14]

In mid-March, NAC retired its only left Boeing 757-200M after three decades of service in order to focus on airbus only fleet. The company is likely to sell the aircraft soon.[15]


Nepal Airlines flies to 10 international and several domestic destinations from its main hub in Tribhuvan International Airport. The airline also operates a few domestic flights from its regional hubs at Biratnagar, Nepalgunj and Pokhara.

Codeshare agreementsEdit


Nepal Airlines Airbus A330-200
Nepal Airlines Airbus A320-200
Nepal Airlines Twin Otter
Nepal Airlines Xian MA-60

Current fleetEdit

The Nepal Airlines fleet includes the following aircraft as of 1 June 2019.[17][18][19]

Nepal Airlines Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Note
C Y Total
Airbus A320-200 2 8 150 158
Airbus A330-200 2[20] 18 256 274
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 3 19 19
Harbin Y-12[21] 4 19 19
Xian MA60 2[22] 56 56
Total 13

Former fleetEdit

Nepal Airlines Historical Fleet
Aircraft In service Exit from service
Airbus A310 1993 1996
Boeing 727-100 1972 1993
Boeing 757-200 1987 2017
Boeing 757-200M[15] 1987 2019
Boeing 767-300 2000 2001
Douglas DC-3 1958 1973
Fokker F27 Friendship 1966 1970
Fong Shou-2 Harvester 1963 1965
Hawker Siddeley HS-748 1970 1996
Pilatus Porter 1961 1998

Cabins and servicesEdit


Shangri-La ClassEdit

Shangri-La Class is Nepal Airlines' business class on all international flights. Shangri-La Class consists of 18 seats on Airbus A330 and 8 seats on the Airbus A320 aircraft with a four-abreast configuration. Nepal Airlines serves Shangri-La Class passengers a gourmet meal. Passengers are also provided with an array of drinks to choose, including complementary wine, cocktail, vodka, and a range of soft drinks.[23]

Economy ClassEdit

Nepal Airlines serves economy class passengers a meal, with options of either fish, chicken or mutton for their economy class passengers. Passengers can also request the vegetarian meal at the time of reservation.[24] The economy seats in Airbus A330 aircraft are equipped with IFE system with options including 40 Asian movies, 30 TV programs and 20 music album.


Economy ClassEdit

All of the Nepal Airlines' domestic fleets are configured with economy class only. Since most of the domestic flights are less than an hour long, passengers are provided with complementary candies and cottons only.

Incidents and accidentsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Nepal Airlines Fleet | Airfleets aviation". Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  2. ^ "EU ban on airline companies from Nepal to continue". Onlinekhabar. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b Brief History of Nepal Airlines retrieved 28 August 2010
  4. ^ a b c d e "History of Nepal Airline Corporation – FundingUniverse". Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  5. ^ R.E.G. Davies, Airlines of Asia Since 1920
  6. ^ Tribune India 12 November 2004
  7. ^ The Himalayan Times 9 February 2005
  8. ^ "BBC NEWS – South Asia – Goats sacrificed to fix Nepal jet". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  9. ^ ATW Daily News Dubai Airshow News Archived 19 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine 18 November 2009
  10. ^ Prasai, Sangam (4 April 2016). "Int'l passenger traffic drops for first time in 13 years". The Kathmandu Post. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Air passenger movement falls for 4th straight year". The Kathmandu Post. 9 April 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  12. ^ "Nepal Airlines' new Airbus A330-200 lands at TIA". The Himalayan Times. 28 June 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  13. ^ "2nd wide-body aircraft of NAC arrives". The Himalayan Times. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  14. ^ Giri, Anil; Prasain, Sangam (12 November 2018). "Ethiopian carrier woos Nepal Airlines with tie-up offer". Kathmandu Post. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Boeing 757 retired". aviation nepal.
  16. ^ "NAC, Druk Air signs codesharing pact". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  17. ^ "Nepal Airlines fleet details". Airfleets. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Nepal Airlines Fleet Details and History". Planespotters. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  19. ^ "NAC calls tender for auction of Boeing aircraft". The Himalayan Times. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  20. ^ "NAC's second wide-body aircraft arrives (In photos)". The Kathmandu Post. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  21. ^ "Nepal Airlines Corporation, Chinese company sign six aircraft deal, Aircraft in Nepal, Nepal Aircraft, Local Airlines, Nepal Airlines – Nepal Tours Destination". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  22. ^ "Nepal Airline 9N-AKR New aircraft landed at tribhuvan international airport (Photo Feature)". Aviation Nepal. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  23. ^ "Business Class". Nepal Airlines. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  24. ^ "Economy Class". Nepal Airlines. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Aviation Safety Network". Retrieved 18 November 2006.
  26. ^ "Nepal Magazine". Retrieved 18 November 2006.
  27. ^ "Accident: Nepal DHC6 at Jomsom on May 16th 2013, runway excursion". AVHerald. 16 May 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  28. ^ "Crash: Nepal DHC6 near Khidim on Feb 16th 2014, aircraft impacted terrain". Retrieved 16 February 2014.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Nepal Airlines at Wikimedia Commons