Tashi Air unable to execute its domestic flight operations from October

The Trashiyangtse National Council representative Tashi Phuntsho questioned the Minister for Information and Communications D.N Dungyel for allowing Tashi Air to again violate the terms and conditions of licensing international flights by not ensuring that it resume its domestic flight from October this year.

As per the legal agreement, Tashi Air was licensed and began international operations with the understanding and agreement with the government that the license for international operations will be issued to subsidize domestic flights.

However, after a few months of its operation, the company stopped domestic flights and only operates international flights in profitable routes such as Paro-Kolkata-Bangkok sector and Paro Kathmandu sector.

During the 11th session of the National Council in 2013, the Trashiyangtse representative had sought clarification from the Minister on the resumption of domestic flights for Tashi Airlines.

The Minister had then informed the National Council that Tashi Air would resume domestic flights from October this year. Since this has not happened the Trashiyangtse representative said that the matter is not just about the profits of domestic flights or unsuitable airports in Yongphula and Gelephu but includes a larger question on the government’s ability to enforce legal agreements executed with large and powerful companies.

He said that if the government gives large companies such special exceptions it would create an unhealthy precedent for other large and powerful companies in the future.

In response, Lyonpo D.N Dungyel said that Tashi Air agreed to resume its domestic flight from October but it did not happen.

Lyonpo said that within 5 months of operation, Tashi Air suspended domestic flight service owing to a large operational loss due to low passenger volume and competition against a larger aircraft. “Accordingly, they reported to the government that the operation is unsustainable,” said MoIC Minister.

Lyonpo said the ministry has written to Tashi Air to resume domestic flights and in return Tashi Air has written to the ministry asking for consideration.

Lyonpo said that the ministry cannot decide on Tashi Air’ and the Lhengye Zhungtshog is currently looking at the proposal submitted by Tashi Air, requesting for two more years of grace period for it to be able to start domestic flights again.

Further Tashi Air has also proposed Domestic flight operation either only by Tashi Air or Druk Air and Lyonpo said that the ministry is looking into the possible ways to allow only one company for domestic flight services.

In addition, Lyonpo said that Tashi Air has proposed for a helicopter to avail domestic flight services in the country and the government had decided to allow either Tashi Air or Druk air to operate helicopters for domestic flight services.

Lyonpo said that both Druk Air and Tashi Air have reported huge losses and Tashi Air as per their report stated a total Nu 250 mn loss. Similarly Druk Air has reported a loss of Nu 150mn in operating both domestic and international flight service.

Lyonpo said that the government is in the process of studying the proposal made by the Tashi Air and problems encountered by both the companies in operating domestic flight service.

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