Surat: A Delhi-bound Spicejet plane with 146 people on board hit a buffalo while proceeding for take- off here last night but no one was injured in the incident, though the aircraft was damaged and the airline suspended operations to this Gujarat town indefinitely.
The Boeing 737-800 aircraft's left engine was "severely damaged" and it had to be grounded after the incident an airline spokesperson said.
"A stray buffalo hit one of our aircraft, flight SG-622 from Surat to New Delhi, carrying 140 passengers and six crew, on take-off roll at Surat airport. The buffalo was essentially invisible against a dark background," he said.
Maintaining that all passengers and crew were safe, he said an alternate aircraft was arranged to fly the passengers to Delhi, which left at 2255 hours on Thursday night.
Noting that stray animals were "a growing menace" in some airports, the SpiceJet spokesperson said the incident has "affected our regular operations and hence SpiceJet flights from Surat will now be suspended indefinitely. Suspension will be effective immediately."
The damaged aircraft was being repaired at the airport, he added.
There have been several incidents involving stray animals at Indian airports.
In July 2009 a ((now closed down) Kingfisher Airlines' aircraft hit a stray pig on the runway of the Nagpur airport. In March 2010, Mumbai's CSI Airport was shut down for 30 minutes after a dog was spotted on one of the two runways.