Two companies propose to operate helicopter services in the country

The government is working on whether to allow private helicopter services

Two private companies have proposed to operate helicopter services and the government is working on the plans and strategies whether to allow the two companies to operate air services in the country, according to Information and Communications Minister.
Lyonpo Karma Donnen Wangdi informed this to the House in response to the question from the MP of Khamaed-Lunana constituency, Yeshey Dem, who asked the information and communications ministry’s plans to procure a high-performance helicopter.
MP Yeshey Dem said that an additional high-performance helicopter would highly benefit and enhance services apart from the two currently available helicopters in terms of promoting tourism and providing timely services to all the passengers.
“We have received two proposals to have two helicopter services in the country,” the minister said, adding that the ministry is still working on it.
According to the minister, the ministry has talked with the cabinet and sent this proposal to the Lhengye Zhungtsho in 2019. The Lhengye Zhungtsho reviewed it and ordered to make guidelines for the private helicopter.
Further, the ministry in collaboration with the Bhutan evacuation authority has made guidelines for the private air operators.
Lyonpo shared that with the guidelines the ministry got approval to allow the private helicopter services last year. “But due to the Covid-19, all the plans and strategies to have a private helicopter have been deferred,” the Lyonpo said.
He said that the two interested companies to operate private helicopters in the country are in the process to get Air Operator Certificate and the government is planning to help them on this.
Meanwhile, the Lyonpo also shared that the government has looked into an additional high-performance helicopter. “One higher performance helicopter costs around USD$ 12mn, which is around Nu 876mn,” he said.
“It is good that if the government could buy a new helicopter to benefit and enhance the services of the two currently available helicopters, but the cost is high,” Lyonpo said.
According to the Lyonpo, during the second government, the two airbus helicopters were brought in the country, which costs around Nu 240mn each. It is used for emergency services and commercial services currently.
Lyonpo shared with the House that the two private companies, which are interested to operate helicopter services, are with plans and strategies to get a high-performance helicopter.
MP Yeshey Dem also asked the Lyonpo whether the government has made any announcement to the public for the private helicopter services.
Lyonpo Karma Donnen Wangdi said that the ministry didn’t issue any notification or made the announcement for the private helicopter services, but those interested companies have proposed to operate the services.

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu