In October 2009, Travel and Leisure Magazine, an American Express publication, published a very interesting article on the ten most difficult places in the world to land a commercial aircraft. The report was intriguing for two reasons. In the first place, it came as a surprise that airline and tour companies would actually operate flights to places known to be dangerous from a landing perspective. The second piece of information the report contained was that Bhutan was one such country.
The Mysterious Challenge of Operating Flights to Bhutanon Druk Air
For starters, as of 2009, there were only seven pilots in the world who were officially certified to touch down at Paro International airport, Bhutan’s only airport. The figure has probably gone up marginally. However, the nature of the challenge remains untouched mainly due to Bhutan’s remote location. The mountain kingdom of Bhutan is situated on the eastern corner of the Himalayaan range and is nestled between it’s two giant neighbors of China on the north and India on the east, south and west. As you can tell, the nation is landlocked and encompasses approximately 40,000 square kilometers of scenic flora and fauna. The entire country, for all practical purposes, is a national preserve of sorts. Your true blue once-in-a-lifetime experience is set into motion as soon as you board your Druk Air flight to Bhutan.
Your Bhutan experience, in a real sense, commences not when you touch down at Paro International Airport but when your Druk Air flight begins to approach Bhutan air space. The sheer beauty of the Himalayan range with its immaculate and majestic snow-peaked tops is a sight to behold even for the uninitiated traveler. Once you arrive at Paro International Airport, the reality of what you have experienced will begin to dawn on you.
More Facts about Flights to Bhutanon Druk Air
Druk Air is Bhutan’s national flag carrier and is fully owned and operated by the Government. It was founded on April 5, 1981 and officially commenced operations on February 11, 1983. It is the only airline that services Bhutan. Contrary to public perception, other airlines are discouraged from operating flights on this route not because the government of Bhutan believes in propping up state monopolies but because of the intensely risky value proposition of landing and taking off from Paro International Airport. Druk Air operates flights to Bhutan from Bangkok, Kolkata, Dhaka, Kathmandu, New Delhi and other airports in India such as Gaya, Bagdogra and Guwahati . As you can tell, your options are somewhat limited when it is time to book air tickets to Bhutan. Not to worry. We recommend that you consider planning well in advance so that your seats on Druk Air in both directions are fully confirmed prior to your departure to Bhutan.
Druk Air operates a tight ship to put it figuratively. The fleet is always the latest—Airbus A 319-115 serviced meticulously prior to every departure. Airbus service commenced on October 19, 2004 and word has it that the High Lama of Paro Dzong, one of the nation’s most revered high priests, was himself consulted in order to arrive at an auspicious launch date. Bottom line? Go ahead and plan your vacation to Bhutan with tons of confidence and enjoy your flight on Druk Air not once but twice!