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Royal touch in Bhutan debut flight

A prominent member of the Bhutan royal family is scheduled to arrive in Calcutta on Saturday on Bhutan Airlines’s inaugural flight on the Paro-Calcutta-Bangkok route.

State government sources said Her Majesty Kesang Choden Wangchuk, the grandmother of King Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, would be in Calcutta for two days before leaving for Gaya and Varanasi on Monday.

“Her Majesty Kesang Choden Wangchuk will inaugurate the Paro-Calcutta-Bangkok route at Paro and then be on the flight to Calcutta on Saturday,” Ugyen Tenzin, the commercial director of Bhutan Airlines, said on Friday.

“On Saturday she has plans to visit Dakshineswar temple,” said a state government official.

Apart from Kesang Choden Wangchuk, there will be a few more dignitaries on the inaugural flight. Commercial operations, an airline official said, would start in mid-December. Once commercial operations start, Bhutan Airlines, a subsidiary of Tashi Airways, will operate the new flight daily.

The airline had started its first international service, between Paro and Bangkok, in October.

“The flight will arrive in Calcutta from Bangkok and then proceed to Paro in the morning. It’ll return from Paro to Calcutta and then fly to Bangkok in the afternoon,” said Tenzin.

He said that since the airline’s maintenance base was in Bangkok, the flight would originate from the Thai capital.

The flight from Bangkok would reach Calcutta at 7.30am and take off for Paro at 8.10am. The flight from the Bhutan capital will arrive in Calcutta at 11.25am and leave for Bangkok at 12.10pm, said an official. The airline will operate an Airbus 320 with 130 economy class and 20 business class seats.

“We get a lot of tourists from Calcutta to Bhutan. Also, there is a steady flow of traders and holidaymakers to Bangkok from Calcutta. We hope to cater to these travellers,” said Tenzin.

Now, Jet Airways operates two daily flights to Bangkok and Thai Airways, Indigo Airlines and Thai AirAsia one flight each from Calcutta.

“Bangkok is an evergreen sector and the number of tourists is increasing by the year as it is cheaper than many Indian destinations. Thai AirAsia is scheduled to withdraw from Calcutta next March but the introduction of the new flight can ensure competitive fares,” said Anil Punjabi, chairman, Travel Agents Federation of India, eastern region. He said the number of tourists to Bhutan was also rising.

According to travel industry sources, more than 700 passengers fly from Calcutta to Bangkok everyday.

Power cut alert

Power supply is likely to be disrupted in the Roy Bahadur Road, Buroshibtala Road, Agarwala Garden Lane, Nandanpark, Barikpara, SN Roy Road, Sahapore Colony, Rajani Mukherjee Road, Gholsapore Road, parts of James Long Sarani and New Alipore areas between 9.30am and 11.30am on Saturday because of maintenance work by CESC.