The medal was given to Druk Air for their continuous commitment to the country. The Druk Thuksey is conferred to Drukair in recognition of its exceptional service to the Nation for over 40 years, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic by operating numerous repatriation flights and transporting essential medical supplies and vaccines.
Drukair was instituted upon Royal Proclamation in 1981. In its historic first flight in 1983, it took 17 passengers to Kolkata on a Dornier aircraft. Since then, Drukair has operated over 100,000 flights to 10 cities in 5 countries as well as 3 domestic airports.
Drukair’s role has been integral to Bhutan’s response to the pandemic. Since March 2020, it has operated over 360 flights, including numerous repatriation flights to bring back Bhutanese wishing to return home from all over the world. Many of these flights were operated to cities beyond Drukair’s routes. Drukair also continued to transport patients to India during the pandemic for medical treatments despite severe risks and operational restrictions. It operated 63 cargo flights bringing in medical supplies including COVID-19 vaccines, which were used for the nation-wide vaccination campaign.
The frontline staff of Drukair have spent a total of around 1000 days in quarantine during the pandemic.
The airline began operations in 1983 with flights from Kolkata to Paro using Dornier 228 aircraft, 10 years after Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck gradually began to open up the kingdom from self-imposed seclusion and seven years after welcoming its first Western tourists.
Chief Executive Officer of Druk Air-Royal Bhutan Airlines, Tandi Wangchuk said that the fact that the Druk Air has been awarded with this accolade means a lot to the institution. “It signifies that we’ve been able to live up to the nation’s, citizens’, and His Majesty’s expectations. All the staff, management, and board members were extremely thrilled to receive His Majesty’s greatest honour,” he said.
He added, “Whatever role we played not only during the pandemic, but from the start, Druk air has contributed to improving the economy, as His Majesty mentioned, and moreover, during this pandemic, we have been able to bring back not only stranded citizens in other countries, but we have also been able to bring back all medical related equipment on time, and we believe that we have managed to play a role in the pandemic situation. We truly felt that our efforts had been recognized, and we are more eager to continue the process in the future.”