Southwest Airlines suspended two pilots from flying after their jetliner with 124 passengers landed at the wrong airport near Branson, Mo., late Sunday, a spokeswoman said Monday.
A Southwest captain, who has 15 years flying with the airline, and a first officer were removed from flying duties pending a federal investigation of the landing, said Michelle Agnew, a Southwest spokeswoman said.
The Boeing 737-700 landed at the M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport, also known as Taney County 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) apart.
It's not clear why the crew landed the plane at the wrong airport.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the mistaken landing but had no other comment, said spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory.
The National Transportation Safety Board announced today that it is also investigating the incident. The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder from the airplane have been secured and are being brought back to Washington for readout and analysis, the safety board said in a statement. NTSB investigators will also interview the Southwest crew this week.
The airplane took off Monday afternoon from Clark airport, an airport official said.
The plane had departed on Sunday from Midway International Airport in Chicago 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 crews to the correct airport and then were flown to Dallas on another jet later Sunday, she said. Southwest apologized to passengers, is refunding the cost of their tickets and giving them travel credits, 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 the Midwest.
On Nov. 21, a Boeing 747 cargo plane flown by Atlas Air that was supposed to land at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kan., instead landed on the much shorter runway at Colonel James Jabara Airport, a Wichita city airport.Tribune reporter Jon Hilkevitch contributed.