If airports create the first impression of a country, then we are doing a horrible job of it. The experience of going through the Kathmandu airport is not simple, not easy, not smooth, not efficient, not welcoming, not respectful, not friendly, and definitely not fast. Getting to the parking lot and finding a ride out has just gotten much more complicated.
Who came up with the idea of the ‘lower level parking’, anyway? A tourist broke an ankle two weeks ago while negotiating the steep path to the new parking lot off the Ring Road. And the horrendous queue at the ‘Metal Free’ x-ray after arrival immigration is an absurdity that deserves a whole new column.
Systems and systems thinking can be taught, and there are exams for it. Kathmandu Airport does not have a system. In fact, there are at last count 19 different government agencies represented here from customs to immigration, civil aviation to duty free, and no coordinating body.
Nepal’s rent-seeking rulers like to keep everything ad hoc so that they can use their power, access, network and influence to better serve their own personal interest. Systems would mean you would have to get in line like everyone else. No one in power would like that to happen.
Kathmandu Airport is also unique because the people who ‘work’ here and manage the various services report to the aforementioned 19 bosses. There is no one person given the requisite authority to manage the airport and hence, very conveniently, no one can be held responsible. We love the term ‘accountable’ in our new republic, but no one can be held accountable for our collective and individual bad experience at the airport. This makes it easy to blame someone else.
Read also: Economy and ecology of Nijgad airport, Om Astha Rai