KATHMANDU, Aug 30: Except for six VVIPs in the country, all sitting ministers, former heads of state or government and many other VIPs will soon be barred from driving their vehicles up to the apron of the domestic terminal of the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai has expedited preparations to restrict “apron access” to all but the six VVIPs amid concerns over growing misuse of such privilege. As per the new rules being enforced by the civil aviation ministry, all those designated as VIPs will now have to use the apron buses provided by the airlines concerned to board their flights.
Minister Bhattarai in his main priority programs for one year unveiled recently had announced to limit “apron access” at TIA's domestic terminal to only six VVIPs within next two months. These six VVIPs are the president, vice-president, prime minister, chief justice, speaker of the house of representatives and chairman of the National Assembly.
Currently, all ministers, former prime ministers as well as ministers, lawmakers, senior officials of security agencies and even “influential” businesspersons are enjoying apron access. Once the new rule comes into effect, these officials will be excluded from the “exempt list” of the security check at TIA's Domestic Terminal.
This comes amid concerns raised by security officials that the “apron access” being given to VIPs could pose security threat as these individuals and their luggage would not undergo security checks.
“There are growing concerns over the misuse of power and influence to take private vehicles right up to the aircraft on the apron. This move is expected to help minimize possible security threats that may arise owing to the misuse of this privilege,” sources close to Minister Bhattarai said.
Also, the VIPs with “apron access” would often be accompanied by other individuals who are not on the exempt list and these individuals would also board flights without undergoing airport security checks.
Civil Aviation ministry is also working to strictly enforce the code of conduct regarding the use of the VIP lounge at the TIA. This comes amid reports that the so-called VIPs misusing the VIP lounge.
Recently, a photo of Armed Police Force (APF) chief Shailendra Khanal using the TIA's VIP lounge to see off his family member at the airport had gone viral on social media. “We have come to learn that the VIP lounge has been grossly misused. We will soon be enforcing the Code of Conduct developed earlier for the use of VIP lounge in order to restrict such unofficial uses,” said sources familiar with this preparation.
Amid concerns that flights were held in the sky for hours when there is any VIP flight, causing unnecessary hassles to ordinary public, the newly-appointed civil aviation minister is also planning to revise the existing protocol and standards related to VIP movement at the TIA.