By Kevin Murphy
KANSAS CITY, Mo. Jan 13 Southwest Airlines
suspended two pilots from flying on Monday after their
jetliner with 124 passengers landed at the wrong airport near
Branson, Missouri, late on Sunday, a spokeswoman said.
A Southwest captain, who has worked 15 years for the
airline, and a first officer were removed from flying duties
pending a federal investigation of the landing, said Michelle
Agnew, a Southwest spokeswoman.
The Boeing 737-700 landed at M. Graham Clark Downtown
Airport instead of at Branson Airport, the main commercial air
strip near Branson, which has a much longer runway, Southwest
said in a statement. The airports are about 7 miles (11 km)
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the
mistaken landing but had no other comment, spokeswoman Elizabeth
Isham Cory said.
The plane left Chicago Midway Airport on Sunday on a flight
to Dallas Love Field with a planned first stop in Branson, a
musical entertainment and tourism mecca in southwest Missouri.
Southwest is looking into "all the circumstances" that led
the captain to land at the wrong airport, Agnew said.
After landing at the wrong airport, passengers were taken by
ground transportation to the correct airport and then were flown
to Dallas on another jet later on Sunday, she said. Southwest
apologized to passengers, is refunding the cost of their tickets
and giving them travel credits, she said.
The airplane took off on Monday afternoon with a new flight
crew, Agnew said. It was bound for Tulsa, Oklahoma, for
refueling and would go back in service, she said.
The Branson landing marked the second time in less than two
months that a pilot landed a jetliner at the wrong airport in
On Nov. 21, a Boeing 747 cargo plane flown by Atlas Air that
was supposed to land at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita,
Kansas, instead landed on the much shorter runway at Colonel
James Jabara Airport, a Wichita city airport.