Flight operations were normalised only after airport authorities managed to catch the cow.
A stray cow on Ahmedabad international airport's runway brought flight operations to a halt early on Thursday morning, forcing airport authorities to abort landing of two international flights and delaying many others. The services were normalised only after airport authorities managed to catch the cow. But it wasn't an easy task.
At a little after 3 in the morning, the airport staffers were seen running around the runway. They did manage to corral it but only after a chase that lasted nearly 90 minutes.
By that time, an Etihad flight from Abu Dhabi to Ahmedabad and a cargo plane were diverted to Mumbai.
Flight operations of at least four flights were also delayed.
Ahmedabad Airport Director Manoj Gangal confirmed the incident at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport.
"Our first concern was safety, and everything is safe at the airport. I shall be able to comment further only after getting the inquiry report," Mr Gangal said.
It was a "freak incident" that took place at 3:00 am when a gate was opened for two vehicles and the cow followed them, a senior official of the Airports Authority of India was quoted by news agency Press Trust of India.
CISF personnel and other staff used scare-guns and sticks to drive the cow out of the operational area, PTI reported.
It took about one-and-a-half hours to get the cow out. By that time, two flights had to be diverted to Mumbai and five arrivals, and a few departures were delayed, PTI reported.
An AAI spokesperson said, "The AAI chairman has sought a detailed report from the Airport Director (APD), Ahmedabad Airport, on the incident. He has also been asked to ascertain involvement of any human negligence in the incident."
"The APD has been directed by the chairman to take stringent steps to avoid any such occurrences in future," he said.
According to official data, in 2017, there were more than 1,000 incidents of bird strikes as well as animals colliding with planes at various airports in the country.
The figures indicate a 50 per cent increase in such cases since 2014, which witnessed 719 bird or animal hits.
There were 81 instances of animals straying into the paths of planes last year. Such incidents have doubled in the last three years. In 2014, around 40 such incidents were reported.(with additional inputs from PTI)