Air has started a new winter flight schedule offering early morning Kathmandu-Delhi
flights on its new Airbus 319 on Sundays and Wednesdays. Delhi-Kathmandu
flights are on Fridays and Saturdays. From 11 November-14 February the
airline will go back to its BAe146 three times a week from Paro to Kathmandu
and Kathmandu to Delhi on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays and back on Mondays,
Thursdays and Saturdays.
A319 which offers 20 business class seats and 94 economy class seats will
operate on the existing network and has the potential to fly to further
destinations. Drukair flies to Bangkok, Calcutta, Kathmandu, Delhi, Dhaka
and Yangon. The new aircraft is expected to boost tourism and ease air
transportation with its higher carriage capacity compared to the existing
Passengers flying Drukair are charged an additional US $ 5 over the existing fare for all destinations to and from Paro starting, yesterday, September 1. The surcharge is being introduced to absorb the effect of rising global crude oil prices and will be reflected separately on the Drukair ticket.
According to the Drukair management, most airlines introduced the surcharge since the beginning of this year with the continued increase in the price of crude oil. But Drukair's surcharge for each sector is lower than the surcharge in other airlines where it has been increased by US $ 10-20 according to the Drukair management. In India airfares have been increased by about 10 percent. "We were deliberately delaying the introduction of the surcharge as we have a stable airfare but with the oil price still on the rise, it has become inevitable," said the deputy managing director of Drukair, Tandin Jamtso. "Other airlines have already increased the airfare but we were hoping fuel prices would come down. Instead it has again gone up in India."
the air oil prices have increased by approximately 35-40 percent including
India while in Nepal it had increased by 100 percent according to Druk
Air mechanical engineer Tshering Penjor.
expenses make up about 40 percent of Drukair's total operating costs.
Drukair consumes approximately 2400 litres of ATF (aviation turbine fuel)
an hour, said Tshering Penjor. Drukair's fuel is imported from India by
the Bhutan Oil Distributors. Globally, the price of crude oil has been
on the rise since the beginning of this year.
A memorandum of understanding signed between Bhutan and Nepal on February 4 has also paved way for Drukair to fly to Gaya, Chennai and Mumbai via Kathmandu.
The Kathmandu-Delhi sector has also been increased to four flights a week. However, the right to operate flights to new destinations via Kathmandu would be subject to a code sharing arrangement between the national flag carriers.
The managing director of Drukair, Sangay Khandu, explained that 'code-sharing' basically meant that remuneration from the sale of a certain number of Drukair seats would be retained by the Nepalese government as commission. "We are yet to decide how many seats worth of money we have to give them," he said. A Drukair official said that the permission to fly to Chennai and Mumbai would help in bringing more Indian tourists to Bhutan.
The bilateral meeting in Paro led by the secretary of information and communication ministry, Dasho Tashi Phuntsog, and Lava Kumar Devacota, secretary of culture and tourism and civil aviation in Nepal, also decided to eliminate passenger limitation and passenger and cargo royalties on routes beyond Kathmandu. However, this would come into effect only after the code sharing arrangement between the two designated airlines were decided. At the moment, Drukair pays US $ 10 a passenger and 15 percent of freight charges to Nepal as royalty.
Meanwhile, Bhutan's request to Nepal for accepting payments in local currency, and not in US dollars, for local services like refueling, ground handling, landing, and parking charges would be looked into by the Nepalese government and the Nepal Rastra Bank, which is the equivalent of the Royal Monetary Authority in Bhutan.
The bilateral meeting also agreed on adding a safety clause to the prevailing air service agreement (ASA) of 1990. The final revised text of the ASA will be signed tentatively in March this year in Kathmandu. "The safety clause is added as per the requirement of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) of which Bhutan and Nepal are member countries," said Thuji Younten of the department of civil aviation. The two countries also agreed to enhance technical cooperation in civil aviation through training and exchange of technical expertise. Bhutan will conduct similar bilateral air service agreement meetings with India and Bangladesh some time this year.