High hopes in avian industry

Published on Mar 21 2009 // Main News

Thimphu, March 21, 2009: The government has not planned for any new airline, neither has invited private sector to submit proposal nor the private sector has show interest but plan for it but construction of local airports in the country is in top of the agenda list. 

Bumthang valley where a domestic airport is proposed

Bumthang valley where a domestic airport is proposed

The only national flag carrier Druk Air with recent additional support from Asian Development Bank plans to start domestic service. 

The hills and small flatlands provide area for short runways where current aircraft of the Druk Air is not possible to operate. Smaller flights are yet to arrive here. 

So far, only one airstrip in Yonphula is ready for flight operation. Though government minister said domestic air service will begin by October to boost the tourism industry, it is yet to be implemented.

As per the agreement with ADB, the government will allow private companies interested in building airports could run their own planes. They have to conduct feasibility studies and demarcate the sites and, following approval from the government under build, own, operate and transfer module. Private sector will own and operate the airports for the leased period.

Information and Communication Minister Nanda Lal Rai, after his trip to Nepal studying construction of airports in hilly areas, traveled several districts in the country to see feasibility of airport construction. The government has initiated local airstrips after India withdrew its plan to build an international airport in Gelephu.

Though air service in the country is still in embryo, new Bhutanese generation has been attracted with job in air industry. However, the government failed to provide them job opportunity. It has one vacancy for next two years. Even the former Druk Air pilots, who left the country to work in India, have been laid off due to financial crisis.

A large number of Bhutanese students have flown to western countries to pursue studies in avian industry.