Yonphula Airport In Bhutan Sees More Passengers With Increased Flights Per Week

Email

Operations manager with Koufuku International Limited, Sanjok Biswakarma, said that the changes in the flight timing were well-timed.

Yonphula airport, viewed from a distance. (Source: Druktrails)

 

By Younten Tshedup | kuensel

Described as one of the most challenging airports in the world, the Yonphula domestic airport in Kanglung, Trashigang is witnessing an increasing number of passengers lately.

The national airline, Drukair has operated 144 flights to the airport since 11 November last year, of which 50 flights were cancelled due to bad weather.

However, with the improvement of the weather, Drukair has resumed its three flights per week after it was reduced to two flights a week during the monsoon season.

 

 Yonphula airport's runway

Source: DrukAsia

 

Drukair’s station manager at Yonphula, Sonam Gyeltshen said that since the last week of October, the flight frequency has resumed to three along with a change in the flight timing.

Change in flight timing to maximise operations

“The previous flight timing was unfavourable which is why after discussing with the people and management, we decided to change it for maximum operations,” said the station manager.

Earlier, the flight timing at Yonphula was set at 15:15 hours, which was challenging as thick cloud usually blanketed the area at this time of the day.

Now, the timing has been rescheduled to 11:45 hours on Tuesdays and Sundays and at 12:10 hours on Thursdays.

Operations manager with Koufuku International Limited, Sanjok Biswakarma, said that the changes in the flight timing were well-timed.

“Due to the ill timing of the flights and bad weather, many of us were discouraged to opt for domestic flights following several last-minute cancellations in the past.”

He said that if the airline maintains the same time schedule even during the monsoon, there would not be many cancellations like in the past.

Benefits that the change in flight schedule bring

On an average, there are more than 30 people availing the service today. College students and international tourists have benefitted the most from the changes.

 

Source: DLCA.logcluster.org

 

Drukair’s ticketing agent in Kanglung, Tashi Tobden said that with the improvement of the weather and change in flight timings, he could sell more tickets this month.

Following requests from college students, the agent has proposed for an additional flight to the airline next month.

Drukair will fly twice to Yonphula on December 6 to cater to the demands of the college students.

“If there are demands for additional flights, we can always make arrangements based on the availability of the aircraft,” said Sonam Gyeltshen.

“Such demands should be made in groups through the agent. We can then explore the possibilities.”

However, the station manager said that there are a few passengers who turned up late and expected them to consider the delay.

“The check-in time is one and half hours prior to boarding. There is no consideration to this,” he said.

“Half an hour before the take-off, the counter is closed. This is the international rule and we cannot help if someone is late.”

Why Yonphula domestic airport is one of the most challenging airports in the world

Meanwhile, according to the first officer with Drukair, Tshering Sonam, the Yonphula domestic airport is one of the toughest airports to land in the world.

“In all the four airports in Bhutan, we don’t have instruments guiding us while landing. You see visually, calculate and then land.”

He said that the weather, especially during the monsoon makes landing at Yonphula more challenging.

“While the valley is clear, the runway remains covered in fog making it difficult to land,” he said.

“And sometimes there are dogs on the runway.” Recently, the ATR after observing dogs on the runway had to make another round before it could land.

The first officer added that strong crosswinds - winds blowing perpendicularly to the runway, increases the difficulty during landing and take-off.

 

Prayer flags seen near Yonphula airport

Source: Druktrails

 

“This usually does not happen at the rest of the three airports in Bhutan. And then there is just one-way take-off and landing at the airport.”

The Communication and Navigation Assistant with the Department of Air Transport (DoAT), Kenzang Tenzin said that the navigation and telecommunication facility at the airport will be upgraded soon.

Proposed facilities to improve the infrastructure of the airport

He said that budget has been proposed to construct a fire station and a canteen with a public toilet and an additional fencing of about 1km around the airport in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Officials said that even with fencings, trespassing was an issue at the beginning. As one of the landmarks in the area, people from around the gewog gather to watch aircrafts land at the airport.

While the issues of trespassing have been reduced today, during occasions like the tshechu (festival) and other gatherings in the area, people can be seen climbing over the fence to see the aircrafts, according to the airport officials.

Gaps caused by landslides on the fencing area have also enabled the entry of stray dogs into the runway.

“With additional fencing, these issues can be addressed,” said Kenzang Tenzin.

Meanwhile, Drukair’s new ATR would be arriving by July next year. Officials said that the new aircraft will be technically advanced and equipped with some of the latest features.

  

This article first appeared in kuensel and has been edited for the new Bhutan Times.

 


Related Posts

Drukair to Resume Flights to Yonphula & Gelephu on 11 November...

The two domestic airports Gelephu and Yongphula, upgraded with a US$6.9 million grant from the Asian Development Bank...

Oct 28, 2017 08:55

Resumption of Flights to Gelephu and Yonphula Opens Up New...

Drukair’s flights to Gelephu and Yonphula look set to resume by Dec 2017. Projected to fly thrice a week, these two...

Oct 19, 2017 16:52

Yongphula Domestic Airport reopens to air traffic

After remaining closed for over four years, the Yonphula Domestic Airport in Trashigang was formally reopened yesterday....

Oct 09, 2017 18:56

Bhutan Government Waives Off USD 65 a Day for Tourists

The move is expected to promote tourism in the eastern part of the country

Dec 11, 2017 09:33

Govt. to Waive Royalty for Tourists Visiting Eastern Bhutan

“Tourists visiting eastern dzongkhags need not pay the daily fee of USD 65 once the proposal comes through,” he said....

Nov 15, 2017 07:18

New DrukAir Route Linking Guwahati, Singapore And Paro Set To...

The route is expected to facilitate travel, trade and people to people exchange in Bhutan, Assam and Singapore as well...

Sep 02, 2018 15:42

Latest

News

Catch Exciting Film Screenings, Cultural And Sports Events At ‘Japan Week 2018’ In Bhutan

The ambassador of Japan to Bhutan, Kenji Hiramatsu is hopeful that ‘Japan Week’ will prove beneficial in promoting people to people...

Dec 04, 2018 20:15

Yonphula Airport In Bhutan Sees More Passengers With Increased Flights Per Week

Operations manager with Koufuku International Limited, Sanjok Biswakarma, said that the changes in the flight timing were well-timed.

Dec 03, 2018 22:29

Features

Recognising And Addressing The Needs Of The Differently-Abled In Bhutan

The theme ‘Empowering persons with disability and ensuring inclusiveness and equality,’ was also observed in other dzongkhags.

Dec 07, 2018 14:13

Sightings Of White Bellied Herons Declining In Bhutan

The White Bellied Herons are secretive birds, often intolerant of close proximity to humans.

Dec 05, 2018 22:03

Sports

Japanese Volunteers Taught Football Skills To Some Young Monks And Hope to Reach Out To All Other Monastic Institutions In Bhutan

Held on World Children’s Day on 20 November, the programme was spearheaded by the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV).

Nov 24, 2018 06:06

Female Archer Dorji Dema Hopes To Inspire More Women To Take Up Archery In Bhutan

Dorji Dema, a mother of three is among the first women in Bhutan to play in an archery tournament.

Nov 05, 2018 08:11

Business

Bhutan Expects Record Low Inflation In 2018

The nine-month average inflation rate this year was recorded at 2.61 percent, the lowest figure since 2004.

Dec 09, 2018 11:47

Austrian Delegation Seek Investment Opportunities In Bhutan And To Foster Stronger Ties

According to the Austrian delegates, eight companies from diverse sectors such as energy, engineering, tourism and health visited Bhutan to...

Dec 06, 2018 12:42

Travel

Lhop Widows From Samtse, Bhutan Keep Their Culture Of ‘Duk Tsho Hang’ Alive

There is a thriving custom among the Lhops – women are not allowed to wear ornaments after their partners die.

Dec 08, 2018 22:08

Bhutan Received 71,417 International Visitors In 2017; Singapore, USA And Japan In Top 10 List

In 2017, Bhutan received 71,417 international visitors and the revenue earned was USD 79m, the highest arrival and revenue since 2012.

Dec 03, 2018 11:25

Lifestyle

Aku Tongmi: A Song For Bhutan Launched To Revive Traditional Bhutanese Music

The book consists of 10 Bhutanese songs including the National Anthem.

Dec 05, 2018 07:04

Research Done By Bhutanese Artists To Revive Ancient Culture Of Using Colours Sourced From Nature

Artists Penjor Dorji and Norbu Tshering are about to complete a research on using natural pigments to create artworks in Bhutan.

Nov 29, 2018 07:51

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!