Explore Drukair's History

1960s - Highlights

The idea of starting the country’s own air services was mooted by the Late King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. His great contributions to the building of modern Bhutan will be remembered with gratitude by the succeeding generations of our countrymen.

Airstrip inaugurated in Paro

An important milestone in the Aviation history of Bhutan and remembered as the day we brought Bhutan on the world’s air map. The airfield was capable of landing a Dakota airplane making it the first step in its history for which the credit is entirely given to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. Necessary help was provided by the government of India for the construction of airfield whose foundation was laid down by the Chief of Air Staff Air Marshall Arjan Singh on 24th October 1966. The Border Road Forces was entrusted with the important task and it was completed in March 1968.

On 23 March 1968, the Deputy Prime Minister of India, Shri Morarji Desai was invited to inaugurate the Paro airfield. The guest of honour flew in a special Indian Air Force aircraft. Dasho Tamji Jagar warmly received the esteemed guest with a Guard of Honour presented by the Royal Bhutan Army. The Deputy Prime Minister was accompanied by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh DFC, Shri Kanti Lal Desai, Mr Duggal Finance Secretary to the Government of India, Mr Ashok Bhadkamkar of the External Affairs Ministry and other high Indian Officials and press reporters.

First Jamair Dakota flight was carried out successfully.

1980s - Highlights

National airline Drukair established on 5th April.

We are here today because of the far sightedness and vision of one person –the Fourth King of Bhutan, His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. In 1981 April 5th through a Royal Proclamation by his Majesty, opened up the big blue sky and Drukair was born.

Drukair commences commercial air services with two 18-seater Dornier twin turbo propeller aircraft.

Drukair Dornier-RGB

Drukair began operations from Paro with an 18-seat Dornier 228-200. Regular air service between Paro and Kolkata was established. This was the dawn of a new era in the kingdom’s march towards modernization, removing one of the major constraints to development of a land locked country. Her Royal Highness Ashi Sonam Chhoden Wangchuck inaugurated the kingdom’s first historic air services between Paro and Kolkata International airport on February 11, 1983.

Drukair began modestly with one aircraft and twice weekly flight between Paro and Kolkata.

Marking the beginning of air services in Bhutan, the Directorate of Posts and Telegraphs issued first day cover stamps in commemoration of Drukair, that were release by Her Royal Highness on the same day.

Drukair’s Second aircraft

A simple religious consecration ceremony marked the arrival in Bhutan and the installation of Drukair's second aircraft into regular scheduled service on October 11. 1983. The aircraft was also a Dornier 228-200, made in West Germany, and identical to the first aircraft.

Drukair Dornier-RGC

Drukair’s second international destination established- Dhaka

On 30th October 1986, Drukair touched down, from Paro to Dhaka airport marking another historic moment establishing Bhutan's second international destination.

First Bhutanese pilot at work

Captain Tenzin Tshering, 23 years, became the first Bhutanese pilot to fly Drukair. In 1st April, 1984, he joined Drukair. He flew side by side on the Paro-Calcutta and Paro-Dhaka routes along with the six Indian pilots.

Proving flights for Drukair completed

February 21, 1987, Drukair completed evaluation of all three aircraft models that were being considered for purchase by Bhutan namely:

  1. 50-seater ATR-42
  2. 37-seater Dash 8 of Canada's de Havilland
  3. 86-seater four-engine jet BAe 146

First flight to Nepal

On 25th October 1987, Drukair operated its first flight to Kathmandu. The proving flight took 1 hour 38 minutes.

Bhutan buys British jet

The royal government of Bhutan and British Aerospace signed the contract for the purchase of one BAe146 - 100 series in London.

Drukair’s first cabin crew recruited

Drukair recruited nine (six women and three men) cabin crews for its new aircraft BAe-146. The cabin crews were referred through RCSC and based at Paro. Names of the first Drukair cabin crew:

  1. Namgay Bidha
  2. Karma Kinley
  3. Khensee Wangmo
  4. Yangki Wangmo
  5. Yeshi Doma
  6. Tashi Wangmo
  7. Madan Chhetri
  8. Phub Dorji
  9. Tashi Tshering

Bhutan’s first jet aircraft inaugural

The BAe-146 series 100 aircraft began its service from Paro to Delhi on 26th November 1988. It added to the airline's fleet of two Dornier aircrafts, which have been flying the Paro-Calcutta route since February 11, 1983.

Paro to Bangkok inaugural flight

Drukair entered the competitive international aviation world by inaugurating its flight to Bangkok on 22nd January 1989 through the support and cooperation from Thai International Airways and the Royal Thai government creating history between the two countries.

Paro to Kathmandu inaugural flight

Drukair also established airlinks with Kathmandu. The BAe- 146 took off from Paro Airport at 1 PM on 18th February, 1989 with Captain Nightingale and Blagana at the controls.

1990s – Highlights

Bhutan – Nepal Air services agreement

An air services agreement was signed by Bhutan and Nepal allowing Drukair, the Fifth Freedom Traffic Right of up to 2,080 passengers a year from Kathmandu to New Delhi. The bilateral air services agreement was signed on August 7, 1990.

First Bhutanese aircraft engineers licenced

Drukair awarded Aircraft Maintenance Engineer's licence to five Drukair Engineers in a simple ceremony at the office of Civil Aviation Department on 20th February 1991.

Drukair buys second Bae -146

Drukair’s second jet touched down on Paro runway in December 24th 1992. The new jet had an updated instrument panel, in-built steps and other improved features. It could also fly up to 31,000 feet, 1,000 feet higher than the previous aircraft.

First Bhutanese Captain

Drukair's BAe 146 made its first flight with a complete Bhutanese crew on March 29 under the command of Captain Tenzing Tshering.

Drukair launched Executive Class

Coinciding with His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo’s birth anniversary on 11th November, the Royal Druk Executive Class, Drukair’s luxury section, was inaugurated on its New Delhi flight on November 11 with a separate check-in counter and a lounge at the airport as a part of the service.

Drukair leased plane to private airline

Drukair signed an agreement with a private Cambodian air company, Kampuchea Airline, on July 26 to lease an aircraft for 38 days beginning August 4.

First In-flight Magazine

Drukair released its first In-Flight magazine “TASHI DELEK” on 11th November, coinciding with His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo’s birth anniversary. The magazine was scheduled to be published every two months.

Drukair began its commercial flights to Mynamar

On November 11 Drukair, flew into Yangon, the capital of Myanmar, to inaugurate its new commercial route which was supposed to begin on January 6. The opening of the new commercial route was timed to coincide with the “visit Myanmar year” which began on November 18. Drukair was given the rights to carry 50 passengers between Yangon and Bangkok.

Development of a new reservation software

To tackle numerous ticketing problems, a new reservation software system “Drukair Reservation System” was developed.

Drukair resumed Dhaka Flight

Under a new agreement with Biman (Bangladesh’s national airline) Drukair resumed operations to Dhaka. The agreement allowed Drukair to fly to Dhaka where passengers wishing to continue were then supposed to be transferred on to a Biman flight for Bangkok.

2000s -Highlights

New Aircraft

Drukair and British Aerospace signed the final contract for the purchase of two new RJX – 82 seater aircraft.

In July, one aircraft was sent back to the United Kingdom for a regular checkup as some micro biological contamination was found on the wings and the aircraft had to undergo some repair work.

Test Flight

Drukair conducted test flights for Airbus A319, in Paro on February 23 and 24.

Boeing test flights in Paro

Boeing 737-700 aircraft carried out numerous test flights in February at Paro.

Drukair signs agreement to buy Airbus A319

After years of discussions, demonstration flights and negotiations, Drukair finalized the purchase of two Airbus A319. The Airbus A319 replaced Drukair’s fleet of two BAe146 jets that were bought in 1988 and 1990.

Inaugural Flights to Gaya

On 11th November Drukair inaugurated its flight to Gaya coinciding with His Majesty’s 48th birth anniversary.

Drukair welcomed its first Airbus 319 in October with second Airbus expected to arrive in December. The Airbus had a carrying capacity of 118 passengers.

Third Aircraft joins fleet

Drukair welcomed its third aircraft, ATR 42-500, a 48-seater on lease.

Domestic Air Service

Drukair completed its test flights on ATR 42-500 in Bumthang and Yonphula airport.

Drukair flight KB 511 from Paro to Yonphula airport marked the launch and start of domestic air services to Yonphula, Trashigang, on the National Day.

Drukair also flew its first schedule flight to Bumthang in December.

Drukair buys third Airbus

Drukair signed a memorandum of understanding with manufacturer Airbus at an air show, that took place in Singapore.

In the same year, Drukair also added its fourth aircraft A319 Airbus who joined the national airline’s fleet on September 1.

Drukair welcomed its newest aircraft A319 registered as A5-JSW after the initials of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. The aircraft expanded Drukair’s fleet to five aircraft, four of which were A319s and one twin propeller ATR-42.

Drukair opts for the A320neo

Drukair, signed a purchase agreement for one A320neo to support its growth plans and complement its existing fleet of three A319s on 20th April 2018.

Drukair Took Delivery of ATR 42-600

Drukair's brand new ATR 42-600 touched down at Paro International Airport at 10 am on the morning of 26 October 2019. The ATR 42-600, registered as JNW in honor of our beloved Gyalsey, was received in a traditional ceremony attended by Chief Guest, Her Royal Highness Ashi Dechen Yangzom Wangchuck. Her Royal Highness, along with dignitaries from other agencies, also graced a 30-minute flight.

Drukair took delivery of its first A320

The A320neo landed Paro International Airport on 19 March 2020. The new Airbus A320 was registered as A5-JKW, in honour of His Majesty The King on February 21, coinciding with the 40th birth anniversary of His Majesty The King. Drukair’s A320neo is the largest aircraft to operate from Paro Airport.

Drukair received Druk Thuksey Award from His Majesty The King

On the 114th national day, Drukair received the Druk Thuksey Medal from His Majesty on December 17 2021. On the same day Drukair also received Tokha from His Majesty as a gesture of appreciation from the throne.