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Air Service Agreement with United Arab Emirates ratified

The bill of the Air Service Agreement between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of the United Arab Emirates was passed this week. 38 voted for the motion and 2 voted against the motion while 1 abstained.

The motion was moved by the information and communication minister, Karma Donnen Wangdi. He said that it is in accordance with section 27 of the Rules of Procedures for Treaty Making 2016 for signing the bilateral Air Services Agreement (ASA) with United Arab (UAE). The draft Agreement was initiated on 13 February 2017. There are 13 Articles of the Agreement.

The proposal to conclude ASA between the two countries was initially received from the Directorate but

General of Civil Aviation, UAE in 2011. Following informal exchange of views, the proposal was submitted to the Cabinet based on Drukair’s request in 2007 to explore Dubai as a potential destination.

Confessing that he voted against, the MP of Lamgong- Wangchang, Ugyen Tshering said that it is not fair for the people of Paro as airport expansion encouraged on land belong to the farmers. “Forget giving employment opportunities, even compensation for land is not thought about,” he said. He also raised issue of pollution.

MP Dorji Wangdi of Panbang, said that he had discussed with heads from the two airlines and said that there would be no immediate benefit from the air service agreement. “The most important is about making strong air route freedom agreement via Delhi and Kathmandu, where direct route from Paro to Dubai will be of less use.”

Dorji Wangdi suggested for extension of time for signing the agreement cautioning the inconvenience it may rise from the agreement before talking with the counterpart.

The advantages and disadvantages of signing bilateral air service agreement with United Arab Emirates, according to the final national interest analysis are;

Advantages

Bhutan presently has only air connectivity up to Bangkok and Singapore in the east and Delhi in the west. Hence, Dubai (UAE) would become an ideal choice for Bhutan to consider its nest air link destination for connections for Europe and Americas.

Dubai International Airport is one the biggest and an important airport hub for enhancing global air connectivity, trade and commerce and in creating employment opportunities.

The national carrier of UAE (Emirates), has positioned itself as an important Carrier connecting almost all cities in Europe, US, Canada, Asia and other Continents namely Africa and South America. Bhutan could reap these advantages by connecting its flight from Bhutan to Dubai. Most of the European or American tourists could use Emirates flight due to very attractive fares and then connect with Bhutanese carriers from Dubai to Paro.

Reliable air connectivity will improve more tourists from visiting Bhutan and help in boosting the national economy.

Public will have greater access to travel to other countries with competitive airfares.

Possibility of chartered flights or direct cargo flights.

Government can generate revenues from the international flights operating to Bhutan.

There is a growing trend for Bhutanese seeking employment in the Middle East and the new air connectivity could open up avenues for more Bhutanese to explore employment opportunities in the Middle East and beyond.

Increased air traffic on the 3rd, 4th & 5th freedom traffic routes.

Disadvantages

Foreign airlines flying into Bhutan will directly impact the two national airlines by taking away passengers from the local airlines;

Lack of infrastructure at Paro International Airport would lead to runaway congestions and slots constraint, thereby increasing the risk of aircraft incidents.

Risk of introducing inappropriate foreign culture and traditions, which may influence Bhutanese people.

The Bhutanese airlines may not get sufficient load out of Paro or vice versa from Dubai on its 3rd and 4th freedom traffic, which may prove to be an expensive operation.

More airlines and frequency of service will have adverse impact on environment.

 

By Sangay Rabten

 

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