Helicopter service renders 720 flights for Lunaps

The first flight to Lunana was made in November 14, 2015

Among the other highlanders, Lunaps from Lunana still continue to be the most frequent user of chopper services rendered by the Royal Bhutan Helicopter Service Limited (RBHSL).

On November 14, 2015, RBHSL made the first flight to Lunana and since then a total of 720 flights were arranged for the Lunaps. The flights are unscheduled and are being operated based on their bookings.

RBHSL’s Chief Executive Officer Chewang Gyeltshen said the only challenge while flying to Lunana is the bad weather.

Meanwhile, the flight time from Zomlingthang in Punakha to Lunana is 25 minutes for one way and it takes 50 minutes for a round trip. The choppers also fly directly from Paro. 

The charges for the flights are as per flight time and not as per the seats. The helicopter with six-seaters charges the passengers on an hourly basis. 

However, the flight rates after 50 percent subsidy from Paro is Nu 58,600 and Nu 60,700 from Zomlingthang.

Meanwhile, for the local people and SAARC nationals, RBHSL charges Nu 150,000 per hour. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the company deducted the cost to Nu 100,000 per hour. 

For international tourists, the charge is USD 4,375 which is equivalent to Nu 319,356.02.

The helicopter also ferries different weights depending on the place. From Lunana, for example from Toenchey, the weight limit is 240kg during the summer, and 280kg in winter from Paro. 

A few Lunaps, who were then waiting for the chopper at Zomlingthang in Punakha, said that not only did the chopper service made their life easy, but they are also able to transport their goods easily.

Meanwhile, with 1,031 locations, RBHSL has operated services to various locations such as Laya, Lunana, Lingzi, and Sakteng since the beginning of November 2015.

In a span of five years (2015-2019), the company has generated Nu 125.69mn from the local charter and Nu 216.08mn from the tourist charter.

According to the company, each helicopter costs approximately Nu 240mn. 

Former Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay inaugurated the office for RBHSL at Paro Airport on August 10, 2015. On July 9, 2015, under the Companies Act of Kingdom of Bhutan 2000, RBHSL was integrated as State-Owned Enterprise

Chencho Dema from Punakha