Bhutan Airlines (Tashi Air Ltd.) marked its 10th year of operation with a grand celebration at Pemako, Thimphu, on October 10, 2023. The event saw the attendance of numerous agents from Bhutan, India, and other countries, alongside local dignitaries and well-wishers.
The airline commenced its journey with domestic operations utilizing an 8-seater Pilatus aircraft. Within a short span of time, it expanded its services to international destinations, introducing the state-of-the-art Airbus 320 family of aircraft. During the boom years of Bhutan’s tourism from 2017 to 2019, Bhutan Airlines transported nearly 400,000 passengers, as stated by the CEO.
Highlighting Bhutan Airlines’ in pioneering charter operations, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Bhutan Airlines, Pema Nadik, shared the airline’s contribution in introducing charter flights to the unexplored Vietnam market, bolstering visitor numbers.
Acknowledging the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic, the CEO emphasised Bhutan Airlines’ role as a vital lifeline. The airline operated repatriation flights for stranded citizens and transported essential medical supplies and goods in alongside the national carrier, Drukair.
In an expression of gratitude, the CEO extended heartfelt thanks to the local financial institutions, including the Bank of Bhutan, Bhutan National Bank, T-Bank, Druk PNB, Bhutan Development Bank, NPPF, and the Royal Securities Exchange of Bhutan for their invaluable financial support.
The CEO also extended an apology for the unavoidable flight cancellations during the initial days of the scheduled operation’s restart post-COVID. In reassurance, the CEO declared, “I stand here today and give you my assurance that those days of uncertainty are over, and we will stand by our pledge to provide safe and reliable service henceforth”, the CEO of Bhutan Airlines said..
The CEO announced a significant development – a new planned route to Sharjah starting on 1st January, 2024. Bhutan Airlines has submitted an application outlining its intent to operate two weekly flights from Paro to Sharjah via Dhaka. This new route is expected to facilitate travel to Bhutan from the west, considerably reducing total travel time.
Furthermore, the CEO disclosed the signing of a bilateral interline agreement with Thai Airways in June 2023. Notably, the reservation systems of both airlines have been seamlessly integrated for bilateral Interline E-Ticket (IET), allowing Thai Airways and Bhutan Airlines to issue tickets for each other’s routes. The next step involves launching InterAirline Through Check-in (IATCI) with Thai Airways, simplifying travel for passengers connecting to and from Bhutan.
Adding to the list of exciting developments, Bhutan Airlines announced a new partnership with World Ticket, commonly referred to as W2. W2 is a GDS sub-hosting service, offering a virtual code-share arrangement that provides a global distribution and ticketing solution. This partnership will make Bhutan Airlines flights accessible and available for sale through a wide range of GDS channels and OTAs, including access to 180 BSP markets through W2.
The event also witnessed the official carrier partnership announcement with the Bhutan Olympic Committee, solidifying Bhutan Airlines’ commitment to supporting and promoting the spirit of sports for Bhutanese athletes participating in international events.
The presence of members from the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association at the event was acknowledged, further strengthening the airline’s global connections.
Meanwhile, Bhutanese, especially those working in the Middle East are excited about the planned route to Sharjah, saying it would be very convenient for them. “There are about 10,000 of us working in the Middle East. The introduction of the flight will be convenient for us as we can directly fly from Sharjah to Paro,” Tashi, working in Kuwait said. Currently, most Bhutanese fly to Indian cities and then catch their flights to Paro. “We will now not need to go through the rigor of having to disembark, go through immigration and others,” he said.
Samdrup, working in Qatar also had the same to say. “It will take some time for us to reach Sharjah from Qatar, but it will still be very convenient. We will not have to change planes or wait for hours at airports in India for flights to Bhutan.”
Established in 2011, Bhutan Airlines is the first and only private airline in Bhutan, headquartered in Paro, Bhutan. The airline operates a modern fleet of Airbus A319-115 aircraft, offering scheduled and charter flights to various international destinations. Bhutan Airlines is dedicated to providing safe, reliable, and comfortable air travel while promoting the unique culture and traditions of Bhutan. With a vision to become the most preferred airline in the region, our team is committed to delivering exceptional services to our customers.
Sangay Rabten from Thimphu