Passengers protest at airport after Oli’s return from Baku delayed their flight by nearly an hourPilots were asked to stop engines of Shree Airlines flight because of disturbance caused at VIP lounge where Oli was being welcomed, officials say.
A Shree Airlines flight preparing to fly to Bhadrapur was delayed at Kathmandu airport for nearly an hour on Sunday morning, sparking protests from irate passengers.
An airline official told the Post that airport security asked the plane to stop its engines because they were causing noise at the VIP lounge, near the domestic parking bay, where Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was being welcomed upon his return from Baku where he was participating in the 18th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The Shree Airlines plane was scheduled to fly to Bhadrapur at 10:30am. The notice to airmen, usually called NOTAM, was issued from 10:05 am to 10:35 in view of Oli’s scheduled landing at Kathmandu airport at 10am, according to the airport authority.
“The plane was asked to stop its engines due to disturbance caused at the VIP lounge where the prime minister was being welcomed,” said Pratap Babu Tiwari, spokesperson for the Tribhuvan International Airport. “The flight was under the NOTAM period for VIP flights. As per the procedure, it was asked to stop the engines.”
According to Shree Airlines officials, immediately after orders from airport security, they had stopped the engines. The officials said pilots had started the engines after learning that the VIP movement was already over.
“Due to the heat inside the plane and uncertainty about the flight time, the airline disembarked the passengers from the plane,” said Tiwari. “As soon as they were disembarked, they started protesting.”
It’s a regular procedure on the part of airport authorities to issue notice to airmen during VIP movements, but of late Nepalis have been complaining about delays in domestic flights even when VIPs are travelling to and from international destinations.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit earlier this month, flights were halted for three hours each on October 12 and October 13. The airport had rescheduled as many 87 international flights.
The one incident which drew huge attention occurred last month when a Buddha Air flight from Nepalgunj to Kathmandu was delayed due to Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai.