Stray turtle closes runway, delays turtle-themed plane at Narita airport in Japan


The Airbus A380 All Nippon Airways bound for Naha in sea turtle livery is seen taking off after the runway reopened at Narita Airport, Chiba Prefecture on September 24, 2021 (Mainichi / Tadakazu Nakamura)

NARITA, Chiba – Runway A at Narita Airport east of Tokyo was closed for about 12 minutes and five flights were delayed for up to 15 minutes on September 24, after a turtle was sighted walking on the tarmac.

At around 11:35 am, the pilot of a flight about to take off from the 4000-meter runway informed control of the aircraft of the presence of the animal. To ensure flight safety and carry out checks, Narita International Airport Corp. closed the trail for 12 minutes and got the turtle to safety. According to the Narita Airport office of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, among the five delayed planes was an All Nippon Airways (ANA) plane in the colors of a sea turtle.



The recovered turtle is seen at Narita Airport on September 24, 2021 (Mainichi / Tadakazu Nakamura)

Airport administrators said the turtle is about 30 centimeters long and weighs 2.1 kilograms. Workers of an affiliated company rescued the reptile from the central part of the track with the help of a net. It is likely that the turtle inhabits the airport retention basin about 100 meters away.

Although there have been occasional cases of cats, raccoon dogs, rabbits and other animals entering the trail, the appearance of a turtle is very rare. Narita International Airport Corp. intends to determine what type of turtle it is and investigate the answer to be taken.

ANA’s sea turtle-themed Airbus A380 is intended for use only for travel to and from Hawaii, but its scheduled flights have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. On the day the turtle appeared, she was about to embark on her first trip to Naha, the capital of Japan’s southernmost prefecture, Okinawa, as part of a special tour.

The airline issued a statement saying, “In Hawaii, sea turtles are considered to be lucky, and we hope this turtle that came to watch the flight heralds a bright future. ”

(Japanese original by Tadakazu Nakamura, Narita Bureau)


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