Bhutan Airlines (Tashi Air), the Himalayan kingdom’s first private airline, has announced plans to start operations between Paro International Airport and Sharjah in the UAE starting January 2024.
This announcement was made at the airline’s 10th anniversary celebration held at Pemako Hotel in Thimphu. The grand event, graced by dignitaries, international agents, and well-wishers, marked a significant milestone for Bhutan Airlines.
This marks the inauguration of the first direct airline connection between the Gulf region and Bhutan post-pandemic.
Bhutan Airlines has applied to operate a bi-weekly service from Paro to Sharjah, with a stopover in Dhaka. This proposed route aims to ease the journey to Bhutan for travelers, especially those residing or transiting through the GCC region, significantly cutting down their overall travel time, the airline said.
During the event, Bhutan Airlines also launched a new partnership with World Ticket (W2), a GDS sub-hosting service, offering a virtual code-share arrangement that provides a global distribution and ticketing solution. This partnership, which is effective immediately, will make Bhutan Airlines flights accessible and available for sale through a wide range of GDS channels and OTAs, including access to 180 BSP markets through W2.
Furthermore, Bhutan Airlines’ CEO, Pema Nadik, disclosed the signing of a bilateral interline ticketing agreement with Thai Airways in June 2023. Notably, the reservation systems of both airlines have been seamlessly integrated for bilateral Interline E-Ticket (IET), allowing Thai Airways and Bhutan Airlines to issue tickets for each other’s routes. The next step involves launching Inter Airline Through Check-in (IATCI) with Thai Airways, simplifying travel for passengers connecting to and from Bhutan.
The event also witnessed the official carrier partnership announcement with the Bhutan Olympic Committee, solidifying Bhutan Airlines’ commitment to supporting and promoting the spirit of sports for Bhutanese athletes participating in international events.
Bhutan Airlines commenced its journey in 2013 with domestic operations utilizing an 8-seater Pilatus aircraft. Within a short span of time, it expanded its services to international destinations, introducing the state-of-the-art Airbus 320 family of aircraft.
During the boom years of Bhutan’s tourism from 2017 to 2019, Bhutan Airlines transported nearly 400,000 passengers, as stated by the CEO.
Highlighting Bhutan Airlines’ pioneering charter operations, Nadik shared the airline’s contribution in introducing charter flights to the unexplored Vietnam market, bolstering visitor numbers.
Acknowledging the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic, the CEO emphasized Bhutan Airlines’ role as a vital lifeline. The airline operated repatriation flights for stranded citizens and transported essential medical supplies and goods in alongside the national carrier, Drukair.