Drukair’s proposal to the government to purchase a new ATR will be decided only after the finance ministry makes a cost analysis of the ATR, information and communications minister DN Dhungyel said.

At the Meet the Press yesterday, lyonpo said that the present ATR 42-500 is already over 14 years old. “We need to change this ATR as quickly as possible. Taking into consideration the safety aspect, we would like to replace this. Maybe sell it off and get a new ATR.”

He said that if an aircraft is more than 15 years old, it is likely to fetch the lowest price adding that the government has asked the airline to sell it and lease another one before it crosses 15 years to generate maximum re-sale value.

The cabinet has approved Drukair to complete the formalities of leasing a new aircraft, ATR 42-600.

Lyonpo said that Drukair has to lease out one ATR before doing away with the present one. “First, the leasing process should be carried forward. Second, the aircraft needs to be sold.”

He said that the ministry was not very clear about the cost benefit analysis of leasing an aircraft and owning an aircraft. “With regard to the purchase of the new ATR, the government will only take the decision after the finance ministry makes a detailed cost benefit analysis of owning and leasing of ATR.”

He said that this was decided on February 20.

Of late, he said that he has been informed that Drukair had approached the finance ministry proposing to buy a new aircraft and to lease an additional one. “Now, all of these are under discussion and it hasn’t yet come to the cabinet. As of now, we have permitted to lease one ATR in place of the old one and initiate process to sell the old one.”

He said that the finance ministry is yet to submit it to the cabinet for the final approval.

The new ATR is estimated to cost about Nu 1.2 billion. The ATR 42-500 began operation with Drukair from June 2011 according to information on the airline’s website.

Rinchen Zangmo