Shree Airlines which had not received approval to buy Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 Aircraft from the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) since long has got green signal to add three Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft into its fleet after a year as commenced service with its first CRJ 200 aircraft.
According to Highly Placed Source at the MoCTCA, the ministry had approved Shree Airlines on August 12 (Sunday) to add three 78-seater Bombardier Turboprop Q-400 series aircraft. However, the details such as date of bringing the type of aircraft have not been revealed. But some company officials vowed that the aircraft would join its base in Kathmandu by October—which is the country’s peak tourist as well as festive seasons and during this time air seats demand jumps dramatically.
Anil Manandhar, Corporate Mananger for the airline stated that “We will not be operating the aircraft from Kathmandu as a base taking the consideration of high air traffic and congestion at the country’s only International Airport, Tribhuvan International Airport. The airline had intended Pokhara as the base to fly Q400 turboprops,” added Manandhar.
The airline after the approval from the MoCTCA now had to accomplish its five phase certification process—pre-application, formal application, document evaluation, inspection and demonstration, and the certification-to obtain the air operator’s certificate (AOC) for the new aircraft. It will be issued a no-objection letter to bring the aircraft and once the aircraft arrives, the carrier applies for the AOC. Successful proving flights of the aircraft and documentation will enable the carrier to fly the newly-acquired aircraft for commercial purpose.
However, earlier the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has stalled the application to add the Q400 to the carrier’s Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). The authority has argued that it lacks trained staff to conduct safety and maintenance checks of Q400s and has instead recommended Shree Airlines to add either jet aircraft or Avions de Transport Régional turboprops.
Presently, there are currently no Q400s in the Nepalese registry. For an operator introducing new type of aircraft for commercial operation the operator firstly need to acquire the aircraft type approval or type certification validation from CAA Nepal before flying it in Nepalese Skies.
Established more than one and a half decades only two carriers – namely Buddha Air and Yeti Airlines – use a total of eleven ATR turboprops aircrafts. But with the planned addition, Shree will see its fleet size grow to seven aircraft within a span of two years, the number which two established airlines.
Shree Airlines has, however, been intent on adding a Q400 since, in terms of its fixed-wing fleet, it is currently a Bombardier-only airline and operates two CRJ-200s and two CRJ-700s. The airline has reportedly offered that it will help the CAAN train its staff.
The Nepalese regional specialist originally intended to use the maiden Bombardier turboprop on international services to cities in India. The airline currently operates an exclusively domestic network. It applied for an international permit in December 2017, just four months after launching fixed-wing operations. The airline further plans to operate these aircraft to Simara, Janakpur, Bharatpur, Kathmandu and Tumlingtar with Pokhara being the base as per the initial proposal of the carrier. The airline commenced its service on August 11 last year.