Every dog has its runway—at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA).
Some flights were delayed and two had to be diverted to Jaipur airport after a stray dog entered Delhi airport's runway 29 on Wednesday (it usually handles all landings) and flight movements were put on hold.
The incident took place at 9.30 am, peak air traffic hour.
After Air traffic control officials noticed a dog roaming on the runway, they asked the aircraft that were lined up for landing to do a “go-around”.
This means the aircraft already on descent would climb up instead of landing and return after completing a circuit.
While other flights hovered above the airport as the runway was cleared of the unwanted guest, two flights—Jet airways Mumbai-Delhi flight (9W 301) and IndiGo's Kolkata-Delhi flight— (6E 210) had to go to Jaipur as they needed fuel.
Private airport operator Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), however, claimed operations were not affected. “The dog was removed by our personnel as soon as it was noticed near the runway,” a DIAL spokesman said.
What led to more congestion at the airport were two VIP movements in the morning.
“The VIP movements were scheduled between 8 am and 9 am and as they are given priority take-off and landing, other flights had to be put on hold for some time,” said a senior Air Traffic Control Official on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to talk to the media.
Incidents of dogs straying on runways or even biting airport officials are not uncommon at IGIA. A dog had strayed near the runway just before the inaugural flight landed on the runway when it was commissioned in September last year.
A dog straying on the runway could prove very dangerous. “There should not be any incursion on the runway while landing or take-off. A plane's powerful engines can suck animals, which could damage the engine,” he said. “This is why the runway has to be patrolled constantly to avoid such obstructions.”
Apart from dogs, jackals, neelgais (blue bull), monitor lizards, peacocks, porcupines, snakes, monkeys, foxes and birds of prey are also found at the IGIA.
IGIA is green and spread over 5,100 acres and makes a good habitat for such animals. Though (DIAL) has been successful in relocating the neelgai population but animals, especially dogs and jackals, can still be found here.