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.