Nepal’s Buddha Air leads passengers to the wrong airport

(CNN) – Nepalese airline Buddha Air made a mistake recently when it took passengers to the wrong airport.
The domestic airline departed from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport on December 18. From there it flew northwest to the second largest city in Pokhara country, instead of heading southeast to the intended destination of the flight, the southern city of Janakpur. The two cities are about 250 miles away.

Astha Basnet, chief executive of Buddha Air, tells CNN Travel that the mix was due to two factors: “communication rates and non-compliance with detailed standard operating procedures (SOPs).”

In simpler terms, it was just a confusion.

Due to weather conditions, many Nepalese airports open later in the winter. Because of that shortened window, it is not uncommon for several flights to leave in a short period of time, and this has obviously led to confusion.

However, despite the surprise that the passengers must have gotten when they arrived at the wrong airport, the situation would have been relatively easy. Once Buddha Air became aware of what had happened, they had the pilots take the passengers to Janakpur as planned. There are no direct flights between Pokhara and Janakpur, so the airline was given special permission to fly there.

The 69 passengers on board – 66 adults and three children – arrived in Janakpur safely, although a few hours ago. No mechanical problems with the plane itself were reported.

Buddha Air is a Nepalese airline, which was founded in 1996 and started operating the following year.

Basnet confirms that the airline crew will receive additional training following the flight confusion and that the airline has changed its existing flight manuals.

While such plane errors occur, they are quite rare. In 2019, a British Airways flight from London City Airport to Dusseldorf accidentally flew to Edinburgh due to an incorrect flight plan.

Passengers realized that something was happening when they looked out the window – and at their Google Maps apps.