Stepping out of its self imposed isolation, Bhutan felt the need to open up the skies. And so, the concept of a national airline was born on April 5, 1981. Druk Air began operations on February 11, 1983, from Paro, a picturesque valley in western Bhutan, a 65 km drive away from the capital, Thimphu. At the time, Paro had a little airstrip for helicopters.
Druk Air began humbly with a 18-seat Dornier 228-200 that made its historic touchdown at Paro airport on January 14, 1983, to the chant of Buddhist prayers, cymbals, conches and the like, with maroon-clad monks blessing the occasion and the aircraft. The first link was Kolkata (India), followed by 6 destinations in South Asia, including Bangkok. With Bhutan attracting more and more tourists by the year, and also with massive development in the country’s economy, another Dornier was added to meet this ever increasing demand.
Druk Air upgraded its aircrafts to the new BAe 146 on November 21, 1988, when the aircraft touched down at Paro with religious and traditional fanfare. The airline was now going regional with flights to New Delhi, Kathmandu and Bangkok. All the pilots and maintenance crew were trained at the best institutes abroad, while the flight attendants were trained by Thai Airways.
A few years later, the runway at Paro airport was extended to 2,000 meters and reinforced to accommodate heavier aircraft. A second BAe 146 became part of the evolution of Druk Air.
Owing to much increase in the commercial demand, Druk Air and the Royal Government of Bhutan considered it necessary to upgrade the Druk Air fleet with yet newer generation commercial aircrafts with increased capacity and performance abilities. Druk Air met compatible manufactures that could meet the challenging features of the Paro airport. After numerous demos and test flights, Druk Air picked the Airbus A319. The purchase of the 2 Airbus A319 on December 3, 2004 was the largest ever transaction the country had ever taken at that time.
Druk Air – Royal Bhutan Airlines
- Founded: 1981
- First commercial flight: 11 February 1983, Paro to Kolkata (Flight 1010)
- Headquarters: Paro, Bhutan
- Operation base: Paro International Airport , Paro, Bhutan
- IATA Code: KB
- Aircraft Fleet(2011): 2 A319
- Bhutan – Paro, Paro International Airport
- Bangladesh – Dhaka, Shahjalal International Airport
- India – Delhi, Indira Gandhi International Airport
- India – Gaya, Gaya Airport
- India – Guwahati, Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport
- India – Kolkata, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport
- India – Siliguri, Bagdogra Airport
- Nepal – Kathmandu, Tribhuvan International Airport
- Thailand – Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi Airport
- Website: http://www.drukair.com.bt/