Aviation: Less than a year since it began scheduled flights to Gelephu, the national airline Drukair will discontinue its service to Gelephu from January.

Drukair CEO Tandi Wangchuk attributed financial losses for the decision. He said that the airline’s board of directors had instructed the airline to discontinue the scheduled flights to Gelephu airport.

He pointed out that the airline has been flying an average of 3-4 passengers on flights to Gelephu, and sometimes as little as 1-2 passengers. He added that following an analysis of the situation, the Gelephu operations cannot be sustained.

According to statistics from Drukair, the airline flew a total of 24 flights to Gelephu between December 2015 and September this year.

The national airline was directed by the government to establish scheduled flights to Gelephu last year. Its first scheduled flight was operated on National Day, December 17, last year.

On whether the airline will continue to operate to the airport if the government issues another directive, Tandi Wangchuk said that he could not comment preemptively. However, he raised the possibility of the government providing a subsidy to sustain services to Gelephu.

Gelephu domestic airport was constructed at a cost of Nu 225.3 million. A further Nu 9 million was spent to build a new terminal at the airport when the runway had to be shifted and it was found that the old terminal was located too far away.

Gyalsten K Dorji