Druk Air has taken delivery of its first Airbus A319 aircraft and will receive the second one in December as part of a fleet expansion and renewal program. The aircraft are powered by CFM International’s CFM56-5B engines.

The A319 will offer a two-class layout with 20 Business class seats and 94 Economy class seats. The aircraft will be deployed on the airline’s existing network while offering the potential for flying further afield to destinations such as Dubai and Hong Kong in the future.

Druk Air ordered two A319s in October 2003, representing the Bhutan national carrier’s inaugural Airbus purchase.

“We are pleased to introduce the A319s to replace our ageing fleet, ” said Sangay Khandu, the Managing Director of Druk Air, also known as Royal Bhutan Airlines. “Introduction of the A319s, which have shown outstanding performance at high-altitude airports, will boost tourism and ease transportation difficulties in our mountainous country.”

“It gives us great pleasure to have Druk Air as a new operator of Airbus,” said Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer Noël Forgeard. “The new Airbus aircraft will offer Druk Air the ability to further maximise profit potential while offering passengers the highest standards of in-flight comfort available today.”

The A319 is a member of Airbus’ single-aisle Family, comprising the A318, A319, A320 and A321 and has a seat capacity between 107 and 220 seats. It is the fastest selling aircraft family with more than 3,200 sold so far.

Druk Air operates services to seven cities in six countries, including flights to Bangkok, Calcutta, Kathmandu, Delhi, Dhaka and Yangon.

Since 1983, Druk Air has operated out of Paro airport, the only airport in Bhutan and one which presents difficult operating conditions. The airport is located deep in a valley at an elevation of 7,300 ft above sea level, the surrounding mountains are as high as 16,000 ft. Airbus successfully demonstrated the A319's capabilities in this environment over two days of tests in February 2002, and achieved a significant payload advantage over the competition.

Druk Air's selection of the A320 Family further reinforces the success of the aircraft as the preferred choice of airlines worldwide in the short to medium range segment.

A leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive product line on the market, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain as well as subsidiaries in the U.S., China and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.