Thursday, 4 September 2008

Bhutan : Druk Air celebrates its silver jubilee

September 2: 25 years ago, in 1983, the first 18 seater Dornier took off from Paro opening the gates of Bhutan to the outside world. In February 1983, the Royal Bhutan Airlines started its first operation with one aircraft flying to the Indian city of Kolkatta twice a week.

Two and half decades down the line, Druk Air flies to several destinations including Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkatta, Dhaka, Bodh Gaya and Nepal with two 319 air buses.

As 2008 marks the 25 years of operation for Druk Air, a function was organized here in the capital to mark the event.

His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck was the Guest of Honour.

Speaking at the gathering, Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck said under the wise leadership of His Majesty the King, air transportation has played a pivotal role in the development of the nation.

Druk Holding and Investments (DHI) is the parent organization for Druk Air. The Chairman of DHI Om Pradhan in his inaugural address said that Druk Air has also contributed to revenue generation of the country by bringing in more tourists.

In 1983, Dasho Sonam Tshering who was then working as an engineer with the Druk Air in Kolkatta recollects going to receive the passengers at the Kolkatta airport. He said only about two or three passengers would get out of the 18 seater aircraft. There would be around 20 people receiving them at the airport. In a year only about three thousand will fly by Druk Air.

This was the situation then. But today, about 130,000 passengers fly by the national airline annually.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Druk Air credits the growth to government support, better aircrafts and increased frequency of flights.

Talking about the financial aspect, the CEO Tandin Jamtso said the Druk Air is doing well and is able to meet the operational costs at the moment. He said they are however still running under loss because of accumulative costs.

The CEO said in order to make full utilization of the aircrafts, Druk Air besides its regular flights also leases out the aircraft during night halts in Bangkok.

Also as part of the celebrations, His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck gave away certificates of appreciation to past Chairmen and Managing Directors of Druk Air. Certificates were also awarded to the senior staff of Druk Air.

Druk Air has also plans to introduce flights to Bangkok via Bagdora in India. It has also plans to introduce direct flights to destinations like the US not necessarily via Druk Air but through partner airlines in other countries.

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