The airline will be offering airfares only slightly lower than Drukair’s 

Aviation: Private airline Tashi Air (Bhutan Airlines) launched its inaugural commercial service to New Delhi, yesterday.

The airline will be flying to New Delhi, twice a week, on Sundays and Wednesdays, via Kathmandu.

Commercial director, Ugyen Tenzin, said that the airline expects good demand for its services on the sector as New Delhi serves as a transit hub to Europe. He added that there is much potential on the route.

He pointed out that Tashi Air can now cater to all travel agents as many have clients entering Bhutan from New Delhi.

Drukair carried 36,547 passengers between Paro and New Delhi, last year, and 36,734, in 2013.

The sector is the third most travelled after Bangkok and Kathmandu.

Tashi Air will not be competing with the national airline in terms of price. “Bhutan Airlines never wanted to have a price war with Drukair,” he said, adding that prices are basically on par with what Drukair offers.

Based on rates obtained yesterday, Tashi Air will be only slightly cheaper than Drukair.

Tashi Air will charge Bhutanese Nu 9,945 for a one way trip to New Delhi, and Nu 18,529 for a round trip.

In comparison, Drukair charges Nu 10,318 for a one way ticket and Nu 19,423 for a return trip.

The rates are inclusive of taxes.

Ugyen Tenzin said that Tashi Air did not choose to offer lower prices as Drukair would have followed suit.

The private airline has chosen to compete on services instead.

Ugyen Tenzin added that customer confidence in Tashi Air has increased given their improved on time performance and having an all Bhutanese flight crew.

In what will not be welcome news for Drukair, the private airline is also planning to launch bi-weekly flights to Singapore via Yangon in Myanmar from March, next year.

Drukair currently flies three times a week to the island state. It had earlier strongly recommended that the Singapore sector was not large enough for two airlines.

Gyalsten K Dorji