Astha Basnet, executive officer of Buddha Air, told CNN Travel that the confusion was due to two factors: “communication failures and failure to follow detailed standard operating procedures (SOP).”
In simpler terms, it was just a mess.
Due to weather conditions, many airports in Nepal open at the end of the day during the winter. Because of this shortened window, it is not uncommon for several flights to depart in a short period of time and, of course, this has created confusion.
Still, despite the surprise that passengers must have stayed when they stopped at the wrong airport, the situation would have gone relatively well. As soon as Buddha Air learned of what happened, they made the pilots take 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, albeit a few hours late. There were no reports of mechanical problems with the plane itself.
Buddha Air is a Nepal-based airline that was founded in 1996 and started operations the following year.
Basnet confirms that the airline’s crew will receive additional training after the flight combination and that the airline has modified its existing flight manuals.
Passengers realized something was going on when they looked out the window – and at their Google Maps applications.