Bhutan Airlines, Bhutan’s first private airline came into existence after the Tashi Group of Companies outbid other joint venture companies and won the license to operate the airline. Today, Bhutan Airlines operates with two A319 aircrafts with a seating capacity of 122 passengers each. The airline is set to expand its operations in India with introducing more flights from Kolkata. Tshenchok Thinley, Executive Director, Bhutan Airlines was in Kolkata and spoke to BE’s Varsha Singh about his plans.
Q. What are your plans for India?
A. By 2018, Bhutan Airlines plans to operate seasonal flights to Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, and Bangalore and later we will try to connect to all metropolitan cities in India. On September 2017, we have signed a four year aircraft lease with AerCap, a global leader in aircraft leasing and aviation finance for two Airbus 319. These two are expected to replace our existing fleet by June and July 2018.
Q. How is Bhutan Airlines helping the cargo exchange trade route? Can India be used as a corridor?
A. We are represented by a general sales agency in India who looks after both ticket and cargo sales. Since cargo is cheaper through land, promoting cargo via air is a challenge for us.
Q. How are you taking care of the safety issues?
A. We have all regulatory manuals in place like the safety management system manual, emergency response programme manual, flight operations manual among others. All captains who fly with us have a minimum of 10,000 hours flying experience and are all Bhutanese who are well versed with the landscape in Bhutan. Our maintenance is done by qualified engineers.
Q. Is there any particular time period when air traffic increases to Bhutan?
A. Though Bhutan is a year round destination we see more Indian incoming traffic in the months of April and May and from mid-September to mid-November. Generally, Bhutan’s peak season is March, April, May and September, October, November.
Q. Are you planning to come up with any offers for the people in India to attract more visitors?
A. Our current fare is already specially discounted fare for Indian and Bhutanese nationals. We offer group discounts as well. We have several facilities to offer to our clients. We offer special infant, child and student discount. Golfers are allowed to carry their golf kit along with them for free in any of our sectors. We have increased our baggage allowance from 30 kilogrammes to 40 kilogrammes in business class and from 20 kilogrammes to 30 kilogrammes in both premium and economy class.
Q. What are your foreign expansion plans?
A. We intend to operate to Kuala Lumpur, Incheon, Dhaka, Singapore, and Vietnam very soon.