Phub Dem | Paro

After a weeklong mandatory inspection and maintenance at GMR ATR MRO in Hyderabad, India, Drukair’s new generation ATR 42-600 returns to Paro today.

The ATR was sent for inspection on October 22, and domestic flights were cancelled in its absence. The ATR will resume both domestic and regional flights on October 31, according to Drukair officials.

According to Drukair’s chief executive officer Tandi Wangchuk, as per the regulations, it was mandatory for the aircraft to undergo inspection after two years of operation. He said that it took five days for the examination.

Many commuters who were frustrated with numerous roadblocks along the Thimphu-Trashigang highway have been waiting for the domestic flight to resume.

Sonam Pelden, who came for a medical check-up in Thimphu, said that she opted for a domestic flight after significant landslides along the eastern highway, as it was safer and faster. However, she said that there was no flight available.

“I had to wait for a week to get a bus ticket. It would be convenient if domestic flights remain operational during emergencies such as the roadblocks,” she said.

Tenzin, a civil servant, had to extend his leave after failing to book a flight to Trashigang, and with the highway blocked most of the time. He said that many travellers were waiting for the flight to resume, as road travel is risky due to the recent rainfall.

Drukair received the ATR 42-600 equipped with a clear vision system, which is expected to minimize flight cancellations due to weather, in October 2019. It replaced the ATR 42-500, which according to Drukair, was 16 years old and was sold to the ATR company in the same year.

Although the new ATR is equipped with clear vision, Tandi Wangchuk said that Drukair has been unable to tap into its potential, as the ATR company is still in the process of acquiring regulatory and safety approvals from international organizations and authorities. “After the company gets the approval, we will be able to utilize the enhanced capacity.”

Edited by Tshering Palden