Nepal ministries monitor 'third worst airport'

Five Nepalese ministries Wednesday decided to monitor the country's only international airport after it was ranked as the world's third worst airport by a famous travel website, saying the airport resembled a "bus station in an impoverished neighbourhood".

"A Rapid Response Team headed by a joint-secretary of the home ministry and comprising representatives from the ministries of foreign affairs, finance, physical infrastructure and transport, ecotourism and TIA (Tribhuvan International Airport) was formed today and will begin to work from today," Mohan Krishna Sapkota, spokesperson for the ministry of culture, tourism and civil Aviation told Xinhua Wednesday.

According to the spokesperson, the team's main task is to closely monitor the condition of the airport.

That came after the annual survey report, conducted by Guide to Sleeping in Airports, which placed Kathmandu's TIA as the world's worst airport, only after Benazir Bhutto International Airport at Islamabad in Pakistan and King Abdulaziz International Airport in Saudi Arabia.

It ranked Singapore's Changi Airport as the world's best, in terms of the levels of comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.

Built in the early 1950s, TIA now welcomes about 500,000 international tourists annually.

In 1975, the total length of the runway was increased from two km to three km and since then no comprehensive study has been done to find out the exact condition of the runway.

It has been about four decades since the TIA runway was constructed but no work has been executed to examine its actual state. Time and again, landing and taking off of aircraft have been halted owing to potholes on the runway.

Unmanaged customer service, lack of sanitation, sufficient infrastructure, crowded terminals, long queues, limited seating, unfriendly immigration and customs officers, bathrooms without soaps, smelly toilets, filthy smoking rooms and lack of air-conditioners are the determining factors in ranking TIA as the third worst airport in the world.

X-ray machines and haphazard screening of baggage have also given travellers the worst lasting impression.

Skytrax, which also rates air travel and airport services worldwide on the basis of customer review, also rated TIA at just 3.7 out of 10.

TIA deals with more than 40 international flights with at least 9,000 passengers arriving and departing daily.

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