Nepal’s Buddha Air flight U4505 threw a surprise for its Janakpur-bound passengers as it landed in a wrong destination – Pokhara, 225 kilometres from the intended destination.
A rare flight mix-up led to the inadvertent incident that took place on December 18.
Buddha Air’s flight U4505 took off from Kathmandu Airport for Janakpur with its estimated arrival time by 3:15 pm.
On the other hand, due to weather issues, flights to Pokhara were permitted until 3 pm under the visual flight rules (VFR).
“The weather was already causing flight delays and to make up for the flying time, Buddha Air officials decided to fly to Pokhara first,” said an official at the airline company.
Accordingly, the flight number was changed leading to the rare mix-up.
“The ground staff transferred (on paper) 69 passengers of flight U4505 to flight U4607, which actually was cleared for Pokhara by the air traffic controllers,” said the official.
Everything was in the right order but the ground staff and the flight attendant failed to brief the flight’s captain and co-pilot that the flight’s number had been changed, according to the official.
“There was a miscommunication between the ground staff and the pilots,” said the official.
Astha Basnet, executive officer at Buddha Air, told CNN Travel that the mix-up was due to two factors: “lapses in communication and failure to follow detailed standard operating procedures (SOP).”
Later all the 69 passengers were taken to Janakpur from Pokhara, albeit a few hours behind schedule.