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DCA declares Yonphula ready

Drukair, though, awaits a second opinion from its quality and flight safety division

Domestic Air Service: Yonphula domestic airport in Trashigang is open for flight operations, according to the department of civil aviation (DCA).

An inspection plus commercial flight was carried out by national airline, Drukair, to the airport, yesterday.

DCA director, Wangdi Gyeltshen, said that DCA’s aerodrome officer, who was also on the flight, had found the surface condition of the airport to be satisfactory for scheduled flight operations.

Earlier this month, Drukair, unsatisfied with the repair patchwork carried out, deferred recommencing scheduled flight operations to the airport.  The airline’s quality and flight safety division was unsatisfied with the level of some patches not being uniform with the runway surface, and it also pointed out that, in some areas, the repair work was not even complete.

Wangdi Gyeltshen pointed out that all issues pointed out by Drukair have been addressed, and repair works are now completed.

However, Drukair general manager for domestic operations, Namgay Wangchuk, said that the airline will wait for an assessment from its quality and flight safety division, prior to commencing scheduled flight operations.

Even if satisfied with the current runway surface condition, he said that Drukair will fly to the airport only on a limited basis.  He said that it is yet to be determined what limitation it will follow, which could mean Drukair will only fly to the airport either once a week, or even only once a month.

Namgay Wangchuk said that passenger demand would determine scheduled flight frequency to Yonphula airport.

Wangdi Gyeltshen said that DCA had no say over Drukair on how often it should fly to Yonphula.

As a result of budget constraints, only half of the Yonphula runway was repaired prior to the airport’s launch for domestic air services in December 2012.  As a result, the remaining segment began to deteriorate, causing Drukair to suspend flights to the airport, citing safety concerns, mid-last year.

The latest patchwork is costing Nu 5.5M in addition to Nu 6.5M spent in 2012.

By Gyalsten K Dorji, Paro

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