World Bank to build up Bhutan’s Drukair

February 19th, 2009 - 5:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Feb 19 (IANS) The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank arm that provides investment and advisory services to the private sector in developing countries, will now build up reclusive Himalayan kingdom Bhutan’s national carrier Drukair.
The agreement between IFC and Drukair and its parent company Druk Holding and Investments to review the airline’s operations to increase efficiencies and provide better services at affordable cost marks the multinational’s first foray into infrastructure advisory projects in Bhutan.

IFC will evaluate the airline’s finances and operations and make recommendations that are expected to help the 26-year-old airline operate at its full potential, including exploring the possibility of attracting private investors.

Drukair has only two aircraft and runs flights to New Delhi, Kolkata and Gaya in India and Kathmandu and Bangkok.

Its flights to Dhaka and Yangon have been suspended.

Landlocked, mountainous Bhutan has a single airport at Paro, located at 7,300 feet above sea level.

Flights are limited by weather conditions with the aircraft spending significant time on the ground.

Despite bilateral agreements with Nepal, Thailand, and India, Drukair is the only airline that operates in Bhutan.

“With IFC’s global expertise, we will be able to benchmark Drukair against international best practices,” said Karma Yonten, CEO of Druk Holding and Investments. “We also hope to use IFC’s study and its recommendations to create the right environment for promoting international connectivity.”

Paolo M. Martelli, IFC Director for South Asia, added: “Through this first infrastructure advisory project for IFC in Bhutan, we hope to pave the way for partnering with the country in its objectives of creating jobs and boosting overall economic growth.”

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