I’m A Flamingo…Get Me Out Of Here!

Last week airports on both sides of the Atlantic were a flutter as a flamingo shut down Manchester Airport’s runway and migrating turtles disrupted flights at New York’s JFK International airport.

Here is private jet hire network PrivateFly.com‘s Top 10 list of other animal-related holdups at airports around the world.


1. Turtles in New York

Last week diamondback turtles caused delays at JFK International Airport. The turtles were migrating, across the runway, heading for a nearby sandy area where they lay their eggs. Initially pilots were on alert to manoeuvre their aircraft around the turtles, before airport staff were instructed to encourage the reptiles to move off the runway.
Turtle migration delays are an annual event at JFK as the airport is surrounded by water.

2. Frogs in Cardiff

In 2005 a Monarch Airways Flight from Cardiff (Wales) to Florida was delayed with 300 passengers on board, while crew tried to find two stowaway frogs. The Cuban tree frogs were believed to have hopped onto the flight when luggage was loaded in Cuba for the flight to Britain.

3. Otters in Houston

Houston we have a problem… in 2009 otters caused Continental Airlines’ passengers an 80 minute delay at Bush Intercontinental Airport. The otters were supposed to be safely tucked up in their cages in the cargo hold, but just before the flight two of the marine mammals ran down the gangplank, and raced across the tarmac.
Crew spent 45 minutes retrieving the escapee otters before the flight could depart.

4. Catfish in Florida

Tropical Storm Fay caused marine chaos on the runway of Florida’s Melbourne International Airport in August 2008. A jet was denied its landing spot when airport staff found four catfish, two gopher tortoises, a blue indigo snake and an alligator which had been stranded by the storm on the runway. All the marine life was re-housed in a nearby pond.

Airport Bees5. Bees in Manila

Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport suffered a swarm of bees in May 2011. Flights were delayed and operations affected when bees swarmed the control panels of five of the airports’ aerobridges. Controllers were unable to attach the movable walkways to arriving aircraft. Gates were closed as officials declared that the incident posed danger to both passengers and airport workers.

6. Hares in Milan

Italy’s Milan Airport is disrupted up to twice a year by hares. The animals first played havoc with the radar systems at the Italian airport in June 2007 and continue to disrupt aircraft take-offs and landings. Volunteers now visit the airport grounds to blow whistles and wave, in the hope of deterring the hares.

7. Pythons in Alice Springs

Snakes on the plane caused a Qantas airliner to miss 2 flights when 4 baby pythons went missing. The snakes were securely packed for their flight from Alice Springs to Melbourne, Australia. On arrival the tiny serpents were nowhere to be seen. After a thorough search the aircraft was fumigated, but the snakes were never found.

Flying with animals8. Cheetah in Melbourne

A Melbourne aircraft Captain announced to his passengers: “We’re sorry for the delay, but we’re having some problems loading the cheetah. We have to do it very carefully”. The aircraft was delayed for 50 minutes as the animal was stored safely on board.

9. Coyote in Atlanta

Flights from Atlanta’s International Airport were delayed for a few minutes earlier this year when someone spotted a coyote on the runway. The wily creature was chased from the airport by ground crews.

10. Dogs in Delhi

Authorities at Indian airports are experienced in dealing with animal related incidents. At Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport 200 stray dogs were found in the airport grounds in just 3 months. Dogs are not the only animal visitors to the airport as authorities regularly deal with jackals, snakes, monkeys and birds.

Pets on Jets
At PrivateFly, we regularly come across legitimate and welcome animal airport visitors, as many owners choose to fly by private jet with pets. However uninvited creatures do prove a nuisance at airports, causing delays and safety concerns.
In some parts of the world this can be a common sight, but a flamingo is certainly not something you expect to come across every day on a runway in Manchester.

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