KATHMANDU, May 21: Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) on Friday grounded 10 co-pilots serving in domestic sectors on charge of protesting the appointment of a new pilot, which they claimed was done violating the corporation´s rule.
Managing Director K B Limbu had appointed Man Bahadur Tumbahanfe to the post of Captain about three months ago. He had given Tumbahanfe, who earlier worked with Yeti Airlines, seven-year service contract.
However, pilots had instantly protested the decision, saying that the appointment was done without due approval of the board and hence goes against the NAC rule.
The log-book at NAC head office on Friday stated that 10 co-pilots have been suspended from flying until further notice, as directed by Limbu. The grounded co-pilots include Sajal Kuinkel, R Banjare, Suresh KC, S Paudel, A K Khadka, D K Gupta, B Kathayat, P Shrestha, A R Shakya and Raman Ghimire.
They knew about the decision while going through the log-book to check their duty schedules.
NAC currently has 27 pilots for domestic flights. As per the existing flight schedule, only five pilots will be enough to handle the national flag carrier´s domestic operations.
“So the decision will not impact NAC´s services,” said an official at the corporation.
R Banjare, one of the grounded co-pilots, argued that Limbu´s decision to suspend them from flying was not legitimate. “It is true that we were in a protest against the management. But taking action without seeking due clarification or issuing any warning is unfair,” he stated.
Another grounded pilot Suresh KC said issuance of seven-year contract was against the NAC´s practice of giving initial contract of six months with the board´s approval.
Limbu termed the action against co-pilots as a departmental action for not complying with the management´s decision. “The action was taken after they (pilots) were found approaching different institutions, lobbying for Tumbahanfe´s ouster, instead of approaching the management for talks,” Limbu added.
As for the appointment of Tumbahanfe, Lumbu said he decided to hand a seven-year contract as the national flag carrier was facing shortage of experienced Captain. “I´m ready to hire more captains if I get qualified and experienced hands,” he added.