Bhutan Airlines celebrates a decade of operation

NA Introduces Bhutan-Kuwait Air Service Agreement for Ratification

The National Assembly will deliberate on the ratification of the Air Service Agreement (ASA) signed between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of the State of Kuwait on June 21, 2024. The motion for the Agreement was introduced in the House by the Member In-charge of the Bill, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Chandra Bdr Gurung, during the Second Sitting of the Fourth Parliament Session on June 14.

The introduction of the Agreement was supported by Foreign Minister D.N. Dhungyel, who stated that it would strengthen bilateral relations and promote tourism. The Minister noted that many Bhutanese work and study in Kuwait and its neighboring countries, and the Agreement would allow them to travel directly to Kuwait and the Middle East without taking long routes. It would also ease contact with Gulf countries.

However, the Minister emphasized that the Agreement cannot come into force unless it is ratified by Parliament as per the Constitution. Section 25 of Article 10 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan states: “Except for existing International Conventions, Covenants, Treaties, Protocols and Agreements entered into by Bhutan, which shall continue in force subject to section 10 of Article 1, all International Conventions, Covenants, Treaties, Protocols and Agreements duly acceded to by the Government hereafter shall be deemed to be the law of the Kingdom only upon ratification by Parliament unless it is inconsistent with this Constitution.”

The National Assembly Speaker, Lungten Dorji, assigned the task to the Human Rights and Foreign Relations Committee, which will deliberate on the Agreement on June 21, 2024. The Foreign Minister expressed confidence that the House would support the Agreement, as there is no risk or inconvenience associated with it.

Bhutan and the State of Kuwait signed the ASA in Kuwait on January 9, 2024, marking a significant milestone in their bilateral relations. The agreement was signed by Phuntsho Tobgay, Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, and Eng. Emad Faleh Al-Jelwi, Acting Director General of Civil Aviation of Kuwait. The ASA aims to enhance air connectivity between the two nations, facilitating air transportation and establishing a legal framework for flight operations.

The agreement is expected to have a positive impact on tourism, trade, and interpersonal relationships between Bhutan and Kuwait. It also marks a significant development for the aviation industry, as it enables the exercise of the fifth freedom right, allowing airlines from both countries to operate longer-distance flights. This reflects the growing importance of aviation as a catalyst for strengthening global ties and fostering cooperation.

The signing of this agreement is a testament to the growing partnership between Bhutan and Kuwait. Both countries are eager to leverage this opportunity to further mutual interests and deepen their friendship. With this recent signing, Bhutan has now entered into air service agreements with nine countries: India, Singapore, Maldives, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the UAE, further solidifying its position in the global aviation landscape.

By Sangay Rabten, Thimphu