Turtles on a runway will likely never compete with snakes on a plane for dramatic effect, but a reptile made headlines after an innocent stroll along the tarmac at Japan’s second busiest airport, delaying five planes.
The turtle, which weighs just over 2kg, was seen moving slowly along the tarmac at Narita International Airport near Tokyo on Friday morning, prompting a pilot preparing to take off to contact air traffic control .
Staff removed the animal with a net and checked the 4,000-meter runway for other foreign objects, causing a 15-minute delay on five flights, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.
They included an All-Nippon Airways Airbus A380 whose fuselage is decorated with light blue and dark blue images of sea turtles, an embellishment that debuted in July last year to celebrate the carrier’s service to Hawaii. , where animals are considered sacred.
While airport workers are sometimes called upon to remove stray cats, raccoon dogs and rabbits from the runway, sightings of turtles are extremely rare, the Mainichi said. Narita officials believe the creature may have come from the airport retention basin, located about 100 yards from the runway, the newspaper added.
After ANA had to cancel its 14 weekly flights to Honolulu due to the coronavirus pandemic, the airline used its A380 fleet on domestic routes. The plane in question was about to take off for a flight to the island of Okinawa in southern Japan when the turtle appeared.
The airline ignored the disruption. “In Hawaii, sea turtles are considered lucky charms, and we hope this turtle that came to watch the flight heralds a bright future,” he said in a statement.