Today's Paper

Runaway cow moos away flights from runway

An Etihad flight and a cargo plane diverted to Mumbai after pilots spot bovine intruder in Ahmedabad

In recent times, runways in Indian airports have been invaded by a variety of mammals – ranging from hyenas and jackals at the international airport in New Delhi, to spotted deer and wild boars in Nagpur, and the common stray dog in Chennai.

But surprisingly, for a nation that prides itself on veneration of the cow, cattle have been conspicuous by their absence on runways, save for a solitary buffalo that tried to board a SpiceJet flight in Surat in November 2014. But a buffalo is not, strictly speaking, a cow, and it was finally up to the Ahmedabad airport, traditionally associated more with avian intrusions, to host a cow on its runway.

On Thursday morning, at least two flights – an Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi to Ahmedabad and a cargo plane – were unable to land on account of the cow, which was first spotted by the pilots.

Both flights were diverted to Mumbai and other flights were delayed.

“It was a stray cow that entered from the cargo terminal side. The cow was quite mad, and running around the operational area. I have asked the airport director to inquire into it and submit a report,” Airport Authority of India chairman Dr Guruprasad Mohapatra told The Hindu .

Inquiry ordered

“We have ordered an inquiry,” the airport director, Manoj Gangal, informed the media.

Sources said that the animal was in the airport premises for about 90 minutes before Central Industrial Security Force guards chased it out.

The incident has raised security concerns in the run-up to the high profile visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is scheduled to land in Ahmedabad on January 17. “This is a very serious and shocking incident just a week before the visit of the Israeli prime minister,” said a senior official involved in the VIP security.

Tragedy averted

In November 2016, tragedy was averted at the Ahmedabad airport when a Chennai-bound Spicejet plane, with 189 passengers and crew, aborted its take-off after some monkeys got on the tarmac.

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