The Telegraph
Saturday , September 22 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bee attack sequel at airport, flights not hit

Honeybees stung the city airport yet again on Friday, descending on four aircraft of Jet Airways and an aerobridge in a span of six hours. All four aircraft, however, left on time.

On September 10, an IndiGo flight was delayed by 21 minutes as the bees settled on the right wing of the aircraft. The plane could leave only after fire tenders dispersed the swarm by spraying water.

“On Friday, the honeybees were detected in the parking bays near the domestic terminal building. Fire tenders were used to disperse the bees. There was no trouble,” said a senior airport official.

The maintenance staff of Jet Airways first spotted the swarm around 10am buzzing around the nose of an aircraft parked in bay 24.

“The aircraft was to leave for Guwahati. The fire services department was immediately called and a fire tender sprayed water on the swarm. But it did not have any impact on the bees. Since they were not coming towards the passenger area, the airline allowed passengers to board,” said an airport official.

The flight took off at 10.20am, as scheduled.

Twenty minutes later, the honeybees were spotted flying around the nose of an aircraft parked in bay 22. The plane was to take off for Ranchi at 10.45am.

The fire tender was called again. This time it was successful in dispersing the bees by spraying water.

“The swarm then flew to bay 25 and settled on the nose of another Jet aircraft that was to take off for Guwahati at 10.55am. A jet of water could disperse the bees,” the official said.

About 20 minutes later, the bees settled on the tip of a fourth Jet aircraft that had arrived from Bhubaneswar and was parked in bay 23. “The aircraft flew back to Bhubaneswar on time after the bees were dispersed,” the official said.

After a few hours’ lull, the sting brigade was back again, this time striking an aerobridge in bay 49 around 4.30pm.

The aerobridge could be used only after the bees were dispersed by fire tenders.

The authorities claimed there were no beehives at the site where the integrated terminal building was being readied or anywhere else near the parking bays.

“The bees are apparently coming from outside. After the September 10 incident, we conducted a thorough check of the construction site and adjacent areas but no beehive was found,” said airport director B.P. Sharma.

He said his officials had got in touch with the state forest department to tackle the bee problem. “We have requested the forest department to find out from where the bees are coming,” said Sharma.

Calcutta airport is not the only one being subjected to bee assaults. In August, a swarm of migrating bees had settled on the wing of a New York-bound Delta Airlines aircraft at Pittsburgh airport, causing a 47-minute delay. A professional beekeeper was brought to gather the swarm settled on the Bombardier CRJ-700.