KLM pilot should have asked for directions

Skipped destination in India, unaware of new airport


A KLM flight headed for Hyderabad in India's south skipped its destination and flew across India because the pilot was unaware the city had a brand-new airport, a report said Monday.

The confusion occurred barely hours after the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in the Hyderabad suburb of Shamshabad became operational after midnight Saturday, with flights landing and taking off, said the Times of India.

The pilot of the KLM flight, which had taken off from Amsterdam, at first headed towards Hyderabad's old airport and was told by air traffic control the facility had been shut, the report said.

When directed to fly to the new airport, the unnamed pilot replied: "What's that?" and flew instead first to New Delhi, from where he took the plane to Mumbai after being declined permission to land, it said.

The plane had on board 230 economy and 13 business-class passengers when it approached Hyderabad at 1:45 a.m. Indian time on Sunday. It had been due to fly out of Hyderabad to Amsterdam at 3:35 a.m. with more than 230 passengers.

The Times of India cited an anonymous source as saying the Dutch airline's pilot had been reluctant to land in Shamshabad because its headquarters in Amsterdam had not received a notice about the closure of the old and the opening of the new facility.

The new airport, built at a cost of more than 600 million dollars, opened for flights after a week's delay prompted by airline requests for more time to switch to the new facility and operational reasons such as shifting of equipment.