Passengers of the Buddha Air plane were shocked to find that they had landed at an airport 160 miles away from their intended destination.
The Nepalese airline was supposed to fly south to Janakpur from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport but instead it flew north west to Pokhara in central Nepal.
The 69 passengers were flummoxed when they found themselves looking out of their plane windows at the wrong Nepalese city.
Passengers of the Buddha Air plane were shocked to find that they had landed at an airport 160 miles away from their intended destination. Pictured: Buddha Air plane at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport (file photo)
The Nepalese airline was supposed to fly south to Janakpur from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport but instead it flew north west to Pokhara in central Nepal
They had boarded Buddha Air’s ATR 72 on Friday but had faced delays due to ‘breezy’ weather. The conditions meant that airlines were trying to use every available travel window in which they were allowed to depart.
But the mix-up is said to have been caused by human error.
‘There was miscommunication between the ground staff and the pilots,’ an official from the airline told The Kathmandu Post. ‘The flying pilots also did not look at the passengers’ manifest.’
According to a preliminary report into the mishap, flights to Pokhara were permitted until 3pm due to the weather conditions. Buddha Air took action and decided to fly to Pokhara first.
The airline changed the flight numbers around and transferred the 69 passengers intending to go to Janakpur onto a flight cleared for Pokhara by air traffic controllers.
The 69 passengers were flummoxed when they found themselves looking out of their plane windows to find themselves in the wrong Nepalese city of Pokhara. Pictured: Pokhara airport in Nepal (file photo)
While everything was in the right order on paper, the ground staff and the flight attendant failed to brief the pilots about the change of flight number and so they flew the plane to Pokhara.
‘Paperwork was fine,’ Birendra Bahadur Basnet, managing director of Buddha Air said. ‘There were weather conditions also so the pilots were more focused on flying.’
The passengers were flown to Janakpur directly from Pokhara later in the day, the airline said.
‘It’s an occupational error, or a human error you can say,’ said Basnet. ‘Though such errors cause losses to the organisation, it has nothing to do with the safety issue.’
The passengers were flown to Janakpur directly from Pokhara later in the day, the airline said Pictured: Buddha Air plane standing at the Bharatpur Airport in Nepal (file photo)
Buddha Air, admitting their mistake, have launched an internal investigation into the incident.
‘Our internal committee will recommend an appropriate system not to repeat the mistake in the future,’ said Basnet.
Former director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, Tri Ratna Manandhar, said the incident happened due to miscommunication.
‘It’s not part of safety lapses but it’s a serious lapse on the part of management,” said Manandhar. ‘Such lapses cause passengers to suffer. On the other hand, airlines too have to bear losses.’
These mishaps are rare. But in March last year, a British Airways plane intended for Düsseldorf in Germany instead landed in Edinburgh, Scotland after the flight paperwork was submitted incorrectly, according to reports.