Bhutan Airlines flight to Kolkata

With Bhutan Airlines flight to Kolkata in operation, people who travel by air has the choice of airlines on Kolkata/Bangkok and Paro/Kolkata sectors henceforth. Bhutan Airlines, had its inaugural flight to Kolkata last week, following the Indian government’s approval. The Bhutan Airline’s Paro/Bangkok flights can now stop on the way at Kolkata to pick up and drop off passengers.

Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck was onboard as the chief guest accompanied by Her Royal Highness Ashi Pema Lhaden Wangchuck.
Other dignitaries on board were Yab Dhondup Gyaltshen, information and communications minister DN Dhungyel and civil aviation director Wangdi Gyeltshen.
The flight also carried onboard its first few paying passengers.
Businessman Ugyen Tenzin welcomed the introduction of yet another sector that would provide national airline Drukair a competition.


“We would like to see stiff competition,” he said, adding besides lower fares, travelers also looked forward to improvements in service delivery.
Another business traveler onboard said the time factor had caused him to choose Bhutan Airlines as he had initially planned to fly from Bagdogra airport, which is a four hour drive from Phuentsholing.
He said Bhutan Airlines airfare, which was cheaper by about Nu 800, was also a factor for his decision.
However, both travelers said they would like to see the two airlines lower their fares to Kolkata below the Nu. 6,000 they charged today for a round trip.
Bhutan Airlines commercial director Ugyen Tenzin said exact fares for the route would be published in the media this week.
However, he assured their airfares would “definitely be more attractive than Drukair’s.”
Ugyen Tenzin said pricing in a price sensitive market was the bottom line.
“Our coming in has changed the pricing policy,” he said. “We’re having some sort of a price war, which we really wanted to avoid.”
Beginning this month until February next year, Drukair is offering an airfare of Nu 15,750, exclusive of taxes for a single round trip ticket to Bangkok.
It is slightly lower than Bhutan Airlines’ Nu 15,999, also exclusive of taxes, promotional offer available since October until February 2014.
Both offers are only valid for single ticket purchase.
The normal airfare is around Nu 21,000, exclusive of taxes for both airlines.
Bhutan Airlines had been operating the Paro/Bangkok sector for almost two months.
Observers in the aviation industry say passenger traffic on Bhutan Airlines has so far been lower than expected on flights.
Ugyen Tenzin acknowledged this.
“I think every airline starts that way,” he said. “Our current priority is smoothening operations.”
He attributed the low traffic to it being the low or non tourist season but added that more Bhutanese were beginning to choose the private airline.
He said bookings for the tourist season were usually made months in advance and Bhutan Airlines’ delay in launching commercial operations caused its inability to fully tap into the tourist traffic.
Bhutanese travelers, he said also had reservations on reliability. He said the private airline was committed to continued services and that from March; Bhutan Airlines would be “dry leasing” an aircraft, meaning it would be staffed by its own pilots and cabin crew.
Currently, most of its onboard crew is from another airline from which it leased the aircraft, a scenario termed a “wet lease”.
Ugyen Tenzin said based on a survey, the Kolkata/Bangkok sector spelt much potential. He said there were 700 to 800 daily travelers on this route and that one of the airlines operating this route, Air Asia, would shortly be pulling out.
“That’s good news for us,” he said.
The next two routes the airline is looking to add are Kathmandu, Nepal and New Delhi, India. Civil aviation officials said unofficial talks were currently underway with the Nepalese government.
“It’s a new step and a new destination,” Tashi Group’s vice chairman Wangchuk Dorji said.
He said the aircraft, A320 had 150 seats, but only between 70 to 75 could be occupied while flying out of Paro airport given load penalties the altitude and temperature caused.
The aircraft, he said needed passengers.
“We’re very happy we’ve been able to achieve this task of getting clearances from Government of India and civil aviation of India,” he said. “Big thing for us right now, everyone is very positive that we can get passengers out of Kolkata.”

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