Paro Airport

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Not to be confused with Faro Airport.
Paro International Airport
Paro Airport.jpg
Airport type Public
Operator Department of Civil Aviation
Serves Thimphu and Paro District
Location Paro District
Hub for Druk Air
Bhutan Airlines
Elevation AMSL 2,235 m / 7,332 ft
Coordinates 27°24′32″N 089°25′14″E / 27.40889°N 89.42056°E / 27.40889; 89.42056Coordinates: 27°24′32″N 089°25′14″E / 27.40889°N 89.42056°E / 27.40889; 89.42056
PBH is located in Bhutan
Location within Bhutan
Direction Length Surface
m ft
15/33 1,964 6,445 Asphalt

Paro Airport (IATA: PBHICAO: VQPR) is the sole international airport in Bhutan. The airport is located 6 km (3.7 mi; 3.2 nmi) from Paro in a deep valley on the bank of the river Paro Chhu. With surrounding peaks as high as 5,500 m (18,000 ft) it is considered one of the world's most challenging airports.[2] As of October 2009[needs update], only eight pilots in the world were certified to land at the airport.[dubious ] [3][4] Flights at Paro are allowed under visual meteorological conditions only and are restricted to daylight hours from sunrise to sunset.[5] It is one of only four airports in Bhutan.


Airport interior, 2011

In 1968, the Indian Border Roads Organisation built an airstrip in the Paro valley, which was initially utilised for on call helicopter operations by the Indian Armed Forces on behalf of Royal Government of Bhutan. Bhutan's first airline, Drukair, was established by Royal Charter on 5 April 1981.

Paro Airport is located deep in a valley 2,235 m (7,332 ft) above mean sea level and is surrounded by mountains as high as 5,500 m (18,000 ft).[6] Initially, the airport was constructed with a runway 1,200 m (3,900 ft) in length,[7] giving the Bhutanese government specific requirements for a choice of aircraft to be operated from Paro. They required an 18–20 seat STOL-capable aircraft with operating capabilities which included a high service ceiling, high rate of climb and high manoeuvrability. The major requirement for the aircraft was that it must be capable of flying Kolkata – Paro – Kolkata, a 1,200 km (750 mi; 650 nmi) round-trip, without refuelling; due to minimal infrastructure being available at Paro for this purpose. Three different aircraft types were considered after flight tests that had been conducted in India and Bhutan between 1978 and 1980; however, none was deemed suitable.[7]

In mid-1981, the Indian government set up a committee to study its own requirements for a light transport aircraft. Based upon this study, the Bhutanese government ordered one Dornier 228-200 for delivery in January 1983, with the option for a second aircraft for delivery in late 1983. The first 18-seat Dornier 228-200 landed at Paro Airport on 14 January 1983, the exact time of landing, the number of passengers on board and even the direction the aircraft was parked on the airport apron being predetermined by the high lama of Paro Dzong.[7]

Drukair inaugurated scheduled revenue flights from Paro on 11 February 1983, with Flight 101 departing Paro for Kolkata and returning the next day as Flight 102. At the time of service commencement, Paro Airport consisted of the runway, a two-room air traffic control building (with the ground floor acting as the check-in counter) and a departure lounge on the lawn.[8] Prior to the establishment of the Department of Civil Aviation in January 1986, Drukair was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Airport's infrastructure.[9]

In 1990, the runway at Paro Airport was lengthened from 1,402 to 1,964 m (4,600 to 6,445 ft) and reinforced for heavier aircraft.[10][11] A hangar was also constructed for the aircraft, which was funded by the Indian government as part of the Paro Airport Development Project.[12] On 21 November 1988, Drukair's first jet aircraft, a BAe 146-100, was delivered to Paro Airport. In 2003, Drukair was seeking a replacement for the BAe 146 and on 19 October 2004 the airline's first Airbus A319-100 arrived in Paro.[13]

Drukair Airbus A319 and BAe 146 at Paro Airport in 2005.


The airport has a single, 1,964 m (6,445 ft) asphalt runway[1] and there is one terminal building that was commissioned in 1999.[14]

In 2012, it was reported that 181,659 passengers used the airport.[15]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Drukair at the Paro Airport Terminal building
Airbus A319 at Paro Airport

Druk Air is the national flag carrier airline of Bhutan and has its base at Paro Airport. Buddha Air became the first international airline to operate charters to Paro in August 2010.[16] Tashi Air is Bhutan's first private airline and was started in December 2011.[17]


Airlines Destinations
Bhutan Airlines Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Delhi, Kathmandu, Kolkata
Bhutan Airlines Jakar, Trashigang (both suspended)
Buddha Air Charter: Kathmandu
Druk Air Bagdogra, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Delhi, Dhaka, Gaya, Guwahati, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Mumbai, Singapore
Druk Air Gelephu, Jakar, Trashigang (suspended)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Paro – Vqpr". World Aero Data. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Cruz, Magaly; Wilson,James; Nelson, Buzz (July 2003). "737-700 Technical Demonstration Flights in Bhutan" (PDF). Aero Magazine (3): 1; 2. Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  3. ^ Farhad Heydari (October 2009). "The World's Scariest Runways". Travel & Leisure. Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  4. ^ "The Himalayan airport so dangerous only eight pilots are qualified to land there - Daily Mail Online". Mail Online. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "Paro Bhutan". Air Transport Intelligence. Reed Business Information. 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  6. ^ "The A319 excels in operations from high-altitude airports" (Press release). Airbus. 8 February 2005. Archived from the original on 15 June 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c Christ, Rolf F. (June 1983). "Bhutan puts its flag on the world's air map". ICAO Journal (Montreal, Canada: International Civil Aviation Organization) 38 (6): 11–13. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  8. ^ Chattopadhyay, Suhrid Sankar (9 May 2008). "Aiming high". Frontline (Chennai, India: The Hindu Group) 25 (9): 122. ISSN 0970-1710. Archived from the original on 15 June 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  9. ^ "Department of Civil Aviation". Ministry of Information and Communication (Bhutan). Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  10. ^ "On the Wings of a Dragon: 25 Years of Progress" (pdf). Tashi Delek XIII (3): 76. July–September 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2010. [dead link]
  11. ^ Brunet, Sandra; Bauer, Johannes; De Lacy, Terry; Tshering, Karma (2001). "Tourism Development in Bhutan: Tensions between Tradition and Modernity" (PDF). Journal of Sustainable Tourism 9 (3): 243. doi:10.1080/09669580108667401. Retrieved 25 April 2010.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  12. ^ Zimba, Dasho Yeshey (1996). "Bhutan Towards Modernization". In Ramakant and Misra, Ramesh Chandra. Bhutan: Society and Polity (2nd ed.). Indus Publishing. p. 144. ISBN 81-7387-044-6. Retrieved 30 July 2008. 
  13. ^ "Drukair's first Airbus lands in Paro". Paro: Kuensel. 20 October 2004. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2010. 
  14. ^ "Paro Airport -". Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "Running short of space and human resource". KuenselOnline. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  16. ^ Buddha Air in service Bhutan Broadcasting Service, 24 August 2010.
  17. ^ "Tashi Group - TASHI AIR LAUNCHED ON 4TH DEC. 2011". Retrieved 12 December 2014. 

External links[edit]