(This news article has been updated)
By Ram Khatry, Canowindra
30 November 2018
Airbus has dodged a direct question on the disputed ownership of two A330s currently operated by Nepal Airlines.
Head of Global News at Airbus, Justin Dubon, told southasia.com.au that the widebody planes in question were “assembled” with Hi Fly as the would-be owner, not Nepal Airlines Corporation.
Unlike cars, an aircraft is assembled only when it has a legal buyer or owner, Mr Dubon said on Friday in an emailed response to southasia.com.au’s query on what is turning out to be yet another darling scandal of Nepalese media.
“Airbus does not assemble an aircraft in the hope to find a buyer in a showroom, ” he said.
In a country where investigations seldom produce results, a parliamentary inquiry into the procurement process of the two A330s is yet to convince Nepalese people as to who owns the aircraft. The controversy has been fueled further as Hi Fly’s website mentions the same A330s (MSN1872 and MSN1878) as part of its fleet.
Mr Dubon conceded that “the delivery of the aircraft was to its legal owners – in this case Hi Fly” and “Whatever transactions happened after the legal transfer from Airbus to Hi fly – is a matter for Hi Fly and the airline.”
NAC may have been in direct contact with Airbus regarding the aircraft customisation and livery, but in contractual terms, the aircraft were the property of Hi Fly when delivered by Airbus, the communications head of the aerospace pioneer clarified.
Hi Fly was contacted by southasia.com.au for comments on the ownership of the two planes but it had not heard back from “the wet lease specialist” at the time this story was posted.
The A330 has won over 1,700 orders from 119 customers worldwide, Airbus maintains.
Hi Fly has updated its website, following this report by southasia.com.au and its query to the Portugese company, which now shows its fleet without the two planes in question: A330s (MSN1872 and MSN1878).
The ownership of the planes was questioned when a report by journalist Akhanda Bhandari from a major Nepalese daily, Annapurna Post, highlighted Hi Fly’s website that showed the two aircraft as part of its fleet.