Domestic air service

"National" airline

The government has reassured us that domestic air services will begin by its October 1st deadline. But, with barely three months left, the government is yet to decide who will run the domestic airline. On 16th June, Kuensel reported that:

Four companies submitted proposals by the February 12 deadline. Two companies, national airline Drukair, and a UK based company, Route Network LLP, were identified on May 7, by an inter-ministerial committee. The final decision was then left to the cabinet.

Of the two proposals it appears that the government favours Route Network LLP. Kuensel, on 26th June:

With Drukair being the national flag carrier, the cabinet does not want to risk adversely affecting its international “image” or standards with additional responsibilities, a senior government official said. Because of this concern, and an impending deadline of October 1, the government is considering additional demands by the other company to have been identified, Route Network LLP.

One proposal was submitted by Druk Air, a Bhutanese company, and one that has almost three decades of unblemished experience in the aviation business.

The other proposal was submitted by Route Network LLP, a foreign company, and one that we know virtually nothing about. (I can’t link to the company website, because I can’t even find one.)

If both the proposals are more or less equal, the government should award the contract to Druk Air. After all, the government should actively support our own companies over foreign ones. If, for whatever reason, the government is not willing to do so, it should at least ensure that foreign companies are not given undue advantage.

So I’m concerned to learn that the government may be leaning towards Route Network LLP. So much so that they are willing to consider the “additional demands by the other company to have been identified, Route Network LLP”.

The banner, a photograph by Yeshey Dorji, is a reminder that Druk Air is able and willing to begin domestic operations. That would add to their “image”, not take away from it.


Facebook Comments:


  1. I think giving it to a foreign company might be a better idea.
    We all know Druk air is crazy with their fare increase. It cost almost the same amount of money to fly from North America to Thaland and from Thailand to Bhutan.
    Druk air right now enjoys monopoly and does not have to worry about underpermorming since it is state owned. Druk air also still owes the goverment almost a billion ngultrum.
    If it is operated by foreign company, the only thing goverment have to worry about is collecting taxes.

  2. In the first place, i am against idea of domestic air service. Bhutan is not big enough to warrant internal air service. To travel from one extreme corner to another in Bhutan will hardly take 20 minutes; By the time plane has taken off, immediately it has to prepare for landing. People may argue that it will shorten travel time, yes but what about carbon foot print? plane will emit more co2 for travelling shorter distance, more than a vehicle that travels from Thimphu to Trashigang. Also, i wont like to travel to land in dangerious airport like Yongphula; The other visible and tangible adverse effect is a noise pollution. I thought some market research could have been done before deciding on domestic air service. Are there enough passengers travelling by air so as to make the service viable? Who are those passengers? If air service is targeted for tourist do we have tourist volume to sustain the service? And then the question of deciding who will operate domestic airservice?


  3. domestic traveller says

    I think the decision to award the tender should not be based on emotion and soft corner for DrukAir because it is the national airlines but rather on the ability of provide good and safe services to the customers/travellers. DrukAir has been given enough time to show that it is capable and if it has not convinced many of the travellers as shown by the large number of complaints on different forums, then the chance must be given for others. Several years back I lost many items worth a lot of money by Bhutanese standards, sent from Bangkok. No amount of enquiry or requests made at DrukAir office and running between Customs and DrukAir office resulted in making the smallest decision by DrukAir, dicating the lack of cutomer focus. The honesty of people is doubtful and blunt remarks and behaviour indicate poor concern for customers. People should have the choice whether to travel with DrukAir or not and this demands even another competitor for international service. DrukAir needs to pull up its socks. There is no such thing as sympathy in business – perform or leave.

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