As many as five flights were delayed from Tokyo’s Narita International Airport after a wandering turtle was spotted at Japan’s second-busiest airport. The incident occurred on September 24. The reptile forced airport authorities to temporarily suspend its operations for 12 minutes causing delays in flights. A pilot spotted the animal on the runway. The pilot was about to take off but he saw a turtle and informed the traffic controllers following which airport staff rushed to catch the creature.
According to media reports, the turtle, weighing over 2 kilograms and measuring about 30 centimetres in length, was seen walking across the tarmac of Narita International Airport. After the search of the entire 4,000-metre runway area, the reptile was removed by the staff with the help of a net. However, the search effort resulted in the suspension of activities at the airport for 12 minutes and delayed five flights.
Narita International Airport Corporation reportedly said that runways are forced to close because of aircraft parts or birds, “but it’s rare to find small animals”.
According to Narita International Airport Corporation officials, the creature might have come from the retention pond of the airport which is located just 100 meters from the runway. The officials said they will confirm the type of turtle to decide whether the reptile can be relocated in a natural habitat.
According to The Guardian, All-Nippon Airways (ANA) Airbus A380 was one of the five flights whose takeoff was delayed due to a search operation to catch a turtle. The plane was about to take off on a flight to the southern Japanese island of Okinawa when the turtle made its appearance.
The fuselage of ANA Airbus A380 coincidentally is decorated with light and dark blue images of sea turtles. It was done in July last year to celebrate the carrier’s service to Hawaii, where the animals are regarded as sacred.