Aap Tshering disembarks after the flight

Phub Dem | Paro

Tshering lives in Chapcha. Besides Thimphu and Phuentsholing, he did not visit most parts of the country. 

The 75-year-old man said he wanted to see the country and Bhutan’s Airlines’ mountain flight came as a blessing for him.

Tshering’s son dropped him at the airport.

The old man is set for the once in a lifetime experience.

Tshering follows other elderly citizens in the airport and takes a sit near the window. He chants prayers for a pleasant flight and everyone’s safety. 

Most people on board are elderly citizens who never travelled via air.

They said they are taking the flight to enjoy the thrill of take-off and enjoy the aerial view of the scenic beauty of mountains and lakes.

Bhutan Airlines operated the first mountain flight coinciding with the celebration of His Majesty the Fourth King’s birth anniversary on November 11.

The 45-minute flight around the country provides a scenic overview of the landscapes and close view of the snow-capped mountains.

Adhering to the health protocol, the airline allows only 38 passengers although its capacity of 126. Passengers have to undergo temperature screening, wear masks and use hand sanitisers.

Bhutan Airlines’ deputy general manager of the commercial department, Sonam Yangchen, said mountain flight was initiated to offer scenic travel experience to domestic travellers. “It is also for people who never travelled in the plane.”

She said most of the travellers were older people using the mountain flight as a pilgrimage opportunity as they could view Buddha Dordenma, Takila Guru statue and numerous lakes.

Since its first flight, Bhutan airlines have operated seven flights with 308 passengers. The airline is operating the flight every weekend.

Sonam Yangchen said that the airline would continue to operate the mountain flights even after the international flight resumes.

The ticket costs Nu 4,999 for adults and Nu 2,500 for children below six years old.

She said that mountain flight was to keep the crew and aircraft on move and not to make a profit. “The ticket fare is only enough to cover fuel cost.”

Meanwhile, Tshering slowly walks out of the aircraft with a big smile.

Although it was difficult to locate the places, he said he saw the country. “I am grateful to my children.”