The incident took place at Tokyo’s Narita international airport on Friday morning, when a turtle was spotted walking slowly on the tarmac just as one flight was about to take off. This prompted the pilot to call the air traffic control.
The turtle, weighing about 2.1 kilograms and 30 centimetres long, was then removed by the staff with the help of a net. But it triggered a search of the entire 4,000-metre runway area, according to Japan’s Mainichi newspaper. The search effort caused the takeoffs to be halted for 12 minutes and delayed five flights.
Interestingly, among the five planes delayed, there was a special All Nippon Airways (ANA) aircraft in sea-turtle theme, Mainichi reported that quoting officials.
The newspaper reported that it was believed the turtle came from the airport’s retention pond about 100 meters away.
This is the turtle that wandered onto the runway at Narita airport yeah, halting the flight of a turtle painted aircraft
— Spoon & Tamago (@Johnny_suputama) September 25, 2021
The Narita International Airport Corp said it intends to ascertain what kind of turtle it is, and investigate what response to take.
While animals that inhabit the streets have often been spotted at runways of different airports, turtles are pretty rare to land on the tarmac and cause disruption.
The airline, however, is not unhappy with the delay caused and has called the turtle spotting a good omen.
“In Hawaii, sea turtles are seen as bringing good luck, and we hope this turtle that came to see the flight off signals a bright future,” it said in a statement.