The government has directed Drukair, through Druk Holding & Investments (DHI), to resume flights to Gelephu and Yongphula thrice a week with the domestic airports in these two locations repaired and upgraded with a USD 6.9 million grant from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Communications minister D.N. Dhungyel said that Drukair was asked to submit proposals to compensate for operational losses. Three major proposals were submitted with the first one asking the government to finance the purchase of a new ATR-42, at a cost USD 17 million.
The second proposal sought subsidy of Nu 0.393 million per flight while the third proposal asked for a one time establishment cost of Nu 7.6 million to set up equipment and offices in Gelephu and Yonphula.
A review team from the finance ministry went through the proposals and dropped the purchase of new ATR-42. On the subsidy to meet flight operations the finance ministry worked out that it could provide subsidy of about Nu 0.30 million of Nu 0.393 million sought per flight.
Lyonpo clarified a flight is a round trip originating from Paro to Gelephu to Yonphula, back to Gelephu and then to Paro.
He said the government agreed to give the Nu 7.6 million one time establishment cost to establish offices in both airports.
He also said that Drukair will take 30 days to start operations as they will need time to put their accessories in place and to establish office. “In one week’s time, starting from 16 October, the finance ministry will be discussing with DHI and accordingly they will instruct Drukair to start operations with the subsidy the government has worked out,” he said.
He also said that the ATR-42 aircraft they have in the moment, can carry about 25 passengers as they have a load penalty. “With 25 passengers, Drukair will definitely go into loss, which is why the government has come up with the subsidy and with the modality of the payment of the subsidy,” he said.