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Office Slut
Nov 29, 2001
Total Time
STOCKHOLM, Sweden — The pilot of a passenger flight tried to land at an airport in a southern Swedish town -- but found no one at the control tower to give him clearance.

It turned out that the controller had failed to return from vacation, and no one had noticed that the tower was not staffed.

The Scandinavian Airlines System's flight carrying 30 passengers from Stockholm was left to circle the airport Sunday at the Kristianstad airport while central traffic authorities called in another controller.

About 30 minutes later, the Dash 8 aircraft landed safely at the airport, about 280 miles south of the capital.

"There was never any danger to the passengers or crew. There were plenty of alternative airports and the aircraft had fuel enough to divert to many of them had it been necessary," SAS spokeswoman Christina Thunberg said.

The tower management said the controller who was supposed to be in the tower had not returned from vacation due to confusion about the schedule. The controller, who thought he was supposed to be back Monday instead of Sunday, does not face disciplinary action, chief of the airport's traffic control center Uno Engqvist said.

Officials did not notice the controller was missing until the call from the SAS pilot, Engqvist said. The SAS flight was the first scheduled to land during the missing controller's shift and the first flight of the day, he added.

SAS is the joint flagship carrier for Sweden, Norway and Denmark.