Kathmandu, May 1
A number of foreigners who had embarked on mountain flights and were scheduled to leave the country later today reportedly missed their flights owing to the congestion at Tribhuvan International Airport this morning, as their departure clashed with the arrival of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari from her state visit to China.
Though the head of state was scheduled to arrive on Thursday, her visit to the northern neighbour was shortened by a day after she suffered high altitude sickness while in Lhasa. However, her arrival today proved to be a major headache for those who had their flights scheduled for this morning, especially between 10:00 am and 11:00 am.
Foreigners who had taken mountain flights were diverted to different airports as TIA remained shut for almost one hour during the president’s arrival. The subsequent delay caused them to miss flights to their home countries.
TIA had also witnessed flight congestion and many domestic and international flights were affected when the president left for China last week.
According to TIA authorities, two mountain flights of Buddha Air and Yeti Airlines carrying mostly foreigners were diverted to Biratnagar this morning after Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was enforced for almost an hour for President Bhandari’s arrival. As these flights had to wait for more than an hour to fly back to Kathmandu, some foreigners reported that they had to miss their flights.
Another flight of Buddha Air was diverted back to Pokhara, while a Shree Airlines flight was kept on hold during the NOTAM.
A few international flights were also kept on hold for up to half-an-hour due to the president’s arrival.
“As law prescribes special provisions regarding flight operations during VIPs’ movement, it is natural for flight disturbance during that time. However, we try to ensure that least number of flights get affected during such times,” said a TIA official.
It is not just the air travellers that are inconvenienced by movement of very important persons, as movement of public vehicles is also obstructed when their motorcade is on road. Though the tendency to disturb the public during VIPs’ movement has been criticised, the government has so far largely ignored such rebukes.
A version of this article appears in print on May 02, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.