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Nepal's national flag carrier welcomes second wide-body plane

KATHMANDU, July 26 (Xinhua) -- Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) welcomed its second wide-body aircraft on Thursday as the national flag carrier of the Himalayan nation seeks to regain its lost ground in international business.

The A330-200 jet named Makalu touched down at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu from France on Thursday morning. The plane with registration mark 9N-ALZ was welcomed with water cannon after it arrived.

On June 28, the national flag carrier received its first ever wide body aircraft from Airbus. Now, the NAC has a total of five planes for international flights -- two wide-body airbus, two narrow-body airbus and one narrow-body Boeing.

With arrivals of new wide-body planes, the NAC plans to start long-haul flights after a long gap. "We will start flights to Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Qatar shortly," Poshak Gnawali, maintenance director at the NAC told Xinhua on Thursday.

The first three destinations are new for the NAC while it has been conducting flight to Doha, Qatar with its narrow body plane. It plans to use wide-body plane to conduct Kathmandu-Doha flight starting from August 1. But date has not been fixed to conduct flights to other destinations, according to Gnawali.

After a gap of 27 years, the NAC had first added new narrow body aircraft -- Airbus A320-200 -- for international flights in February 2015. Since then, additional one narrow body plane and two wide body planes have been added in its fleet.

"With the addition of new planes, we hope to increase our market share in international flights from Kathmandu to 18 percent from current around 12 percent," said Gnawali.

The national flag carrier has also expanded its domestic fleet by acquiring six Chinese made planes -- two MA 60 and four Y-12e.

According to Gnawali, the NAC plans to procure half dozen Twin Otter planes to expand its domestic fleet. "We aim to start procurement from next year," he said.

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