Nepali Times
Plane speaking



For me and many loyal employees of Nepal Airlines, our country and our airline are synonymous. It could be because we are Nepal's international flag carrier. It could be because we have lived through trying times for both the nation and the country whose name the airline bears. Or it may be because we love both equally much.

Which must be why when Nepalis and foreigners talk disparagingly about our national airline it hurts me as much as when they speak ill about our country. My love and respect for my airline and the land of my birth will remain, no matter what anyone says, and no one can take that away from me.

I am no starry-eyed romantic, I am enough of a realist to know that both the country and the airline are in deep trouble. But I also know that the fate of one affects the other, and in fact it is the rot in the country's body politic that is infecting the airline.  I am not going to allow my belief in seeing a prosperous Nepal and a strong Nepal Airlines go unmet in my lifetime. Not without a fight.

Nepal is going through a rough patch during its transition phase, but this is not unique. We all knew it wasn't going to be easy. We often encounter turbulence in flight, but we can anticipate it, go around or climb above the weather to take the plane to a safe landing at our destination. We don't let go of the controls when we hit a few bumps, or leave it up to the gods.

On every flight to Malaysia or Qatar, in the cabin behind me are hundreds of my Nepali brothers and sisters who are seeking greener pastures abroad. Every flight out of Nepal is Nepal in a microcosm, the passengers represent the collective aspirations and hopes of all Nepalis. They are leaving because what they see around them gives them no hope.

I admit, there are times when I feel tempted to join them. There is no shortage of jobs for experienced 757 pilots, and I could earn many times more what I earn here. My family and friends wish me well, and ask me why I am wasting my time in an airline that is going down. Why am I  stubbornly refusing to see that the political leaders, airline mafia, other airlines, the unions and staff are hell bent on destroying Nepal Airlines? Why can't I just call it quits and go abroad instead of wasting my skill, knowledge and time?

How can I explain to them that this would be like abandoning my country? If your mother is sick, would you leave her? Do you just sit back and complain about what a burden she is on you, or do you try to find her proper care and nurse her back to health?

Things are not hopeless. We have come a long way since the war ended, and you can't expect politicians to behave any differently than they are doing here. But there are untainted political leaders with integrity and vision who are itching to set the country on the correct path. Same for the airline, if only the company was left to professionals it could prosper. There are enough of us in the airline who have abandoned neither Nepal nor the airline. We will be here till the end.

Politicians, stop interfering in Nepal Airlines. Leave us alone. We don't need fair weather friends, we need allies who will stay and support us while we negotiate the treacherous route ahead.

Vijay Lama is a Captain with Nepal Airlines with which he has been flying for 25 years.

1. Raghu
Good on you Vijaya. Keep up the good work. Maybe its time to privatise NAC.

2. Chandra

Bijay Lama, Your words stand to your actions! I remembered well, being flown by you to Jumla for a health Camp long ago. You have served country very well and your dedication is second to non. Be it a matter of distributing clothes in remote areas or be it flying a sick from Simikot, your help towards people in Karnali region is admired by everyone. You represent a shinning ray of hope in country like ours and therefore, I wish you all the best for keeping our nation national flag carrier afloat! Please dont listen to those who ask you to join mega money paying airline company, I'm sure you have a very comfortable life comparing to many Nepali Daju Bhai Did Baini and you will have more happiness by serving the poors of the country that accumulating dollars. I hope that your ideas will be heard by good leaders if there are any in Nepal.


3. Shristi

In my opinion, Nepal Airlines would fare well given following conditions:

a. It is treated as a no nonsense business run for profit, profit of airlines as an enterpirse, which is sans politics and corruption (but there's so much money involved and so many hungry bellies to feed  take the case of Lauda, possibly every gun filled their pockets)

b. It should collaborate with other international airlines. This must be in place but definitiely needs to improve or go wider. We all know Nepal airlines cannot buy as many aircrafts and as many staff to be located internationally but collaborative effort with profit oriented business model would help.

c.Maybe it should go 100 percent public. Goverment can collect taxes on profit.

c. Install some rat traps :) and stop making international headlines for goat sacrifices. I would say needs a good PR.

d. Nepal airlines and Thai airlines started at same time. The latter has set itself as a Brand. Effort needs to put in not just to run daily service but to build the airlines as a Brand for quality and service.

None of my the pointers above are new and people can give million reasons why we can't meet it. Tell me how we can meet it. What we need here is solution not defending what problem is a problem. For that we need a good team to work towards it who are no nonsense and only business.


4. Kiranl
I am not ashamed to say that this article made me cry. Tears came out uncontrollably from my eyes, to think of the great potential we have for this country and how we have squandered it. From very far away from my motherland, I salute Captain Vijay Lama and others like him. I will be home to join you very soon, I promise you that. You are not alone, Captain!

5. Shrawan Nepali
Thank you so much in sharing your latest story, I have always enjoyed reading your articles and a true Nepali's heartfelt dedication to our Nepal.  I have been living in San Francisco, CA for the last 25 years dividing my times living in Nepal four months a year thus connecting with both World.  I get homesick part of the year while in California, so then I get a chance to read your article, it is natural that "it makes my day!"  Thank you for what you do, it is not that easy when we are surrounded by challenging "now", but there is a beautiful "human fire-place" within us, lets keep on sharing our suffering and pains, happiness and joy will take care of itself!

Shrawan Nepali, Founder
Curry Without Worry & Ama Foundation

6. subash
"It could be because we are Nepal's international flag carrier."

Shouldn't that be national instead?

7. Ram kunwar

Kudos to vijay lama for his superb thoughts. He is really a nationalist rather than our politicians who never  tired of giving tirades of nationalism .  I appreciate his selfishlessness attitude and dedication to uplift our country. Im sure that he could find a green pastures in western countries and many of us doing it too .  We all educated people need to think about our country after reading this article. we can earn money and live a decent life in western countries but we are just living a second class citizens. I bet you that you never counted as a bonafide citizens in the eyes of white people. I'm telling my experiences after years of my stay in united states.

Nepal is sick as all of us knew this facts. our politicians and beaurocrates are morally corrupt and they are doing the hell over there. But still , we could fix after thing. So folks think about it . what you can contribute for your mother-land ?

Ram kunwar,




8. Bridohi

While I admire Capt. Lama's longing for a political interference free NAC, I must say I had a horrible experience couple of years ago on his flight from Pokhara to Kathamandu. There was a female trainee pilot who gave all of us the scare of our lives on a twin otter plane. She was like a little kid driving--giving us motion sickness. Instead of a smooth take off, she shot the plane up like a fighter airplane with sharp turns, finally levelling out. While trying to land in Kathmandu airport, I looked out the window & I knew we were too high for a gradual landing. Then, she nose dived towards the airport & did a L turn. I really thought we were going to crash & die. All I could do was hold on to the seat real tight & pray. She did land finally with a few bounces & screeches.

The Co-pilot of Capt. Lama was training the female pilot instead him. And where was Capt. Lama during all this horrific flight--he was in the back seat checking out a vide camcorder & flirting with the stewardess, least bothered. All the passengers were really mad & disgusted. Some even filed a complaint with the Station Manager. But who cares in Nepal... Only if people practiced what they preached.

9. Arun
If somebody else is paying you higher for your skills and knowledge, I suggest you go for it.  There are many younger pilots within the ranks that can fill your spot. But there could be other things like family that is holding you back, I don't know.  Don't be too romantic. Nepal Airlines needs to re-invent itself, its a wreck! Maybe what it needs is skilled pilots walking out in droves to other airlines and there may be something that will force it to be better.

10. sukha
vijaya, u made me cry

u reflect the thousands of nepali professionals who r staying in the country despite the green pastures abroad.
polticians, journalist and the society... please understand this fact!!

11. shyam
Lama is is a likable rogue. He represents the typically clueless "Nepal Unites" patriots. These are well-paid upper-middle class professionals in Kathmandu who justify their working in Nepal to some high-order patriotism when the reality is that they are too old or too incompetent or too unfit or too lazy or too rich in Nepal to get jobs abroad. If Lama spent 25 years at RNAC, he must have contributed to its decline too.

12. Jiwan Pakhrin

Glad to see that we have someone within, like Vijay Lama, who shows the gut to speak out his thoughts.  There is no place in the NAC for a hardworking, well meaning, loyal and outspoken person like Vijay Lama. The politicians and bureacracy have brought to the moribund stage of the Nepal Airlines.

As a frequent flier, I avoid NAC and fly only when there is no other alternative as it is the airlines of my last choice or no choice. I have too many of my experience to narrate in RNAC and now NAC. It is NOT going to change no matter who runs the management.

NAC has been used as a free ride airlines and also the ATM machine by the politicians and bureacracy.

Only one thing will save the NAC: that is PRIVATIZE IT. But first liquidate it and fire all the employees. A good Capatain like Vijay Lama will be rewarded then to what his worth in a privatized airlines.

Go for the privatization if you would like to save the NAC.

13. Janak Ale
We (Nepali community) all from Malaysia salute Captain Vijay Lama for his write up and we know that it is from his heart he is speaking. I had an opportunity to fly with him both in the Domestic and International sectors...he is a thorough professional unlike what bidhrohi (comment 8) has written. It is people like Bidrohi who never know what they talking about. Only cheap talk and lousy comment to discourage genuine people in Nepal. If you cant write good things then stop writing nonsense..can you give your original name and address so that we can write to you what we feel about people like you damn it? Or maybe meet you in person to put some sense in your thick head?
Captain please carry on doing good things..donot listen to people like bidrohi..they are just not worth paying attention too..long live Nepal. Good luck NAC

14. Dorji Tsering Sherpa
I greatly appreciate what Capt. Vijay Lama has written in his article. we all know the history of R(NAC) when it had 19 aircraft flying all over the international and domestic regions but is now facing extinction. It is sad and we need men and women from within to solve their own problems. We all want others to change and never think about changing ourselves. Capt. Vijay please come forward and save the organization that is the National flag Carrier. 

15. Zeet

To Birodhi where it says he have to train the trainee and his co-pilot cannot train. Do not circumvate one incident which is allowed to do so. He is through proffessional. This reminds me when i was flying from bhairahawa to ktm almost 16 yrs ago. He was asked to go to pokhara cuz there was some sick person and his family. Citing he may need medical help Mr. Lama fly the plane to pokhara eventhough it was direct flight from bhw to ktm. Once landing in pkr he finds that some drunk high ranking employee of than RNAC waiting to board a plane. He got so furious ppl have to stop him beating a crap out of that person. As i remember him saying this are the reasons why our cost is going high. RNAC is not some individuals bau ko birta he he he .

To jewan pakhrin do not compare RNAC to RNAC after 2046 BS. RNAC before first janaandolan was counted among top 10 airlines in asia. I know my family friend who was than flight attendent saying indian ppl prefer flying RNAC from hk, singapore and dubai where as they have luxury of flying direct flight from above mention places to their country. It was Sujata who downed the RNAC now known as NA. After both janaandolan we thought there will be change but its still the same. We all know it takes time but still we should be able to see some results don't we or we are not allowed to expect that. I have luxury of flying to other airline but  ihave always prefered NA no matter what hassles i have to go through and have experienced too but all of those hassles were never from a crew but from a beaurocratic mambo jambo. In my honest opinion(maybe i am lucky) i have always meet real professional crew from NA which there is only handful of them. Give business to your own airlines atleast we can do that.


16. SSP
Vijay's intentions are noble no doubt, but are they realistic? Like someone commented, the best thing for you to do is walk out and not fly aircraft that are not airworthy. Mice and rats, my God!

17. kamal
Thats right. As long as we have stupid leaders elected by people in LION DURBAR, expect same status for another 20-30 years. Better to sell NAC or former RNAC to private. or let Buddha Air run the corporation.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)