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Tourism minister apologizes for causing flight delay



KATHMANDU, Sept 15: Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai, who came under fire on Saturday for delaying a flight for an hour, has apologized to passengers for the inconvenience.

Minister Bhattarai had reached Tikapur, Kailali to attend a function of Dolphin Festival on Saturday. Since the program started late, the Minister had requested the Buddha Airlines to delay the flight so that he could return to the capital the same day.

A video shared by activist Gyanendra Shahi on social media showed the angry passengers insulting and criticizing the minister after he boarded the flight at the Dhangadhi Airport.

“Where had you disappeared for an hour? Does the law give you the right to delay the flight? Shouldn’t the ministers follow rules? We respect you and your position but delaying the flight for hours just for you convenience is not appropriate. We need clarification,” the video showed a passenger expressing his anger to the minister while  Bhattarai kept smiling.

The angry passengers who recorded the video and insulted the minister are reported to be activist Gyanendra Shahi and his group.

“It is true the flight was delayed because we requested the Airlines to delay the last flight to Kathmandu as the program started late. Our team boarded the plane 15 minutes after the passengers got on the plane. I was in pressure to attend the House of Representatives meeting scheduled on Sunday. Some three/four passengers started complaining aggressively. They even told us that we had caused them big trouble after submitting seven lakhs signature against Paras Shah to the palace. As soon as I heard it, I understood their intention,” Minister Bhattarai wrote on his facebook page on Saturday evening.

“I am grateful to the Buddha Air and the passengers for showing understanding. I apologize for the inconvenience caused to the passengers,” he further wrote.

But, Shahi, claiming Minister was lying, called a press meet on Sunday afternoon. He was “rescued” by the Lalitpur Police after the press meet went out of control as Shahi and participants exchanged heated arguments.

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