Although the domestic airport at Yonphula in Trashigang was completed some four months ago, there were no flight operations until now.

The national airlines, Drukair has submitted a proposal to the Druk Holdings and Investment (DHI) on the commercial viability and any subsidy needed to operate the flights to the two domestic airports in Yonphula and Gelephu.

Information and communications minister, DN Dhungyel said that DHI has come up with two proposals to the finance ministry to purchase another ATR aircraft or provide subsidies for the flights to resume at the two domestic airports.

He said that the finance ministry would deliberate and work out on the subsidy part this week. “Some sort of subsidy would be granted by the government on any operational loss the airline suffers.”

Lyonpo DN Dhungyel said that the finance ministry would discuss the details on the subsidy and inform them.

He said that even after the subsidy is approved, Drukair would decide when to restart the flight considering the engagement of the ATR aircraft.    “We expect Drukair restarts the operation as early as possible since the runway is ready for operation now.”

During the airport launch on October 8, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that the Yonphula domestic airport would accelerate the growth in the east. “I’m told that the runway has been built in accordance with the best international specifications. I’m told that this runway in terms of quality is as good as the Paro international airport.”

He said that the runway is the most beautiful of all airports in the country.

Lyonchhen said that tourists, both local and international, would fly to the Yonphula domestic airport not just to visit east and do business but just for the sheer experience and joy of flying to Yonphula.

Located at an altitude of 2,539 metres above sea level, Yonphula domestic airport was closed in 2013 for renovation, improvement of safety and compliance with international standards.

The airport reshaping works began in April 2015 with financial support from ADB.

Along with the improvements to safety and compliance with international standards, the airport also underwent major alignment changes on one half of the runway.

Another major change brought at the airport was resurfacing and flattening of the runway. The slope of the runway, which was 3.8 percent, has been brought down to below two percent, which is acceptable by international standards.

The 1.465km domestic airport was constructed at a cost of Nu 209 million with support from ADB.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang