National Assembly to deliberate Bhutan-Kuwait Air Service agreement

YANGCHEN LHAMO
Thimphu

The National Assembly is set to deliberate on the ratification of a new Air Service Agreement (ASA) with Kuwait.

This agreement, signed on January 9 this year, aims to enhance air connectivity between Bhutan and Kuwait, potentially boosting tourism, trade, and bilateral relations.

The motion for ratification was introduced by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Chandra Bdr Gurung, during the second sitting of the Fourth Parliament Session on June 14, 2024.

The agreement, once ratified, will allow for direct flights between Bhutan and Kuwait, making travel more convenient for Bhutanese working and studying in Kuwait and neighboring Gulf countries.

Foreign Minister D.N. Dhungyel voiced strong support for the ASA, emphasizing its benefits. ‘‘This agreement will significantly ease travel for many Bhutanese and strengthen our ties with Kuwait,’’ he said. He also pointed out that the agreement could foster more direct contact with Gulf nations, promoting tourism and economic cooperation.

However, Minister Dhungyel noted that the agreement must be ratified by Parliament before it can come into effect, as required by the Constitution of Bhutan. According to Section 25 of Article 10 of the Constitution, all international agreements must be ratified by parliament to become law, unless they conflict with the constitution. This step ensures that the ASA aligns with national laws and policies.

Speaker Lungten Dorji, assigned the Human Rights and Foreign Relations Committee to review the agreement. The committee is scheduled to present its findings and recommendations on June 21, 2024. Minister Dhungyel expressed confidence that the agreement would receive support, given its clear advantages and the lack of significant risks.

The ASA was signed by Phuntsho Tobgay, Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, and Energy. Emad Faleh Al-Jelwi, Acting Director General of Civil Aviation of Kuwait. The agreement aims to establish a legal framework for flight operations between the two nations, facilitating air transportation and connectivity.

One of the key features of the agreement is the exercise of the fifth freedom right, which allows airlines from both countries to operate flights to third countries. This provision is expected to enhance the aviation industry and provide more travel options for passengers, further promoting tourism and trade.

The signing of the ASA marks a significant milestone in Bhutan-Kuwait relations, reflecting both countries’ commitment to strengthening their partnership.

With Kuwait added to the list, Bhutan now has air service agreements with nine countries, including India, Singapore, Maldives, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the UAE.

If ratified, the agreement will pave the way for more direct flights between Bhutan and Kuwait, making travel easier and more efficient for Bhutanese citizens. It is expected to have a positive impact on tourism, trade, and overall bilateral relations.

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