Bhutan used to be one of the most isolated countries in the world. Developments including direct international flights, the Internet, mobile phone networks, and cable television have increasingly modernized the urban areas of the country. Bhutan balanced modernization with its ancient culture and traditions under the guiding philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH). Fervent protection of the environment has been a top priority. The government takes great measures to preserve the nation's traditional culture, identity and the environment. In 2006, Business Week magazine rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest in the world, citing a global survey conducted by the University of Leicester in 2006 called the "World Map of Happiness."
Founded in 1981, ten years after Druk GyalpoJigme Dorji Wangchuck gradually began to open up the kingdom from self-imposed isolation, and seven years after welcoming its first foreign visitors, the airline commenced operations in 1983 with flights from Calcutta to Paro utilising Dornier Do 228 aircraft. A switch to BAe 146-100 equipment occurred in November 1988, and in order to meet increased demand, those aircraft were replaced in 2004 with two Airbus A319s.
Druk Air is the only airline currently flying into Bhutan. The airline operates a modest scheduled flight network within the South Asian region from its base at Paro Airport in the western dzongkhag of Paro and currently consists of eight destinations in five countries.
Bhutan has drawn a Vision 2020 Plan, as part of its Five Year Development Plans targeting several sectors for development, which includes improved external air links by 2017 that would enable increase in income from tourism from 100% (by 2012) to 150% (2017) coupled with completion of second National Highway by 2017. It has also signed several memorandum of understandings with the Government of India not only to enhance airtraffic facilities and operations but also to help Bhutan during emergency situations of floods and earthquake affecting the Paro Airport.