A stowaway bird that sneaked on board a plane where passengers saw it flying around the cabin once the aircraft was airborne has been refused entry into Europe – and deported back to Iraq.
The finch managed to sneak onto an Austrian Airlines aeroplane while it was parked on the tarmac of Erbil International Airport in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.
After the flight took off and had reached cruising altitude, surprised passengers suddenly discovered the finch flying around the cabin.
Austrian Airlines spokesman Peter Thier said: “Once the plane arrived in Vienna, the animal was handed over to the responsible veterinary office at the airport.”
The vets found that the stowaway was in good health.
Even though no diseases could be found, the bird was denied entry into Europe after careful consideration by the Austrian authorities
They reportedly did not want to allow an undocumented bird into the country and deemed it would be a safer option to take the finch back to Iraq.
The bird was eventually deported from Austrian territory back to Erbil, albeit this time it was secured in a special box in the cargo hold.
Spokesman Peter Thier said: “On Monday, the songbird was taken home in a cage inside one of our aeroplanes.”
Once at Erbil Airport, the local veterinary office carried out another check on the bird.
Erbil International Airport Operations Manager Sulaiman Taha said: “All animals, including birds which are taken to our airport, need to be checked.”
The Iraqi vets also determined that the finch was in good health despite being a bit tired-looking from the entire ordeal and the hours spent on an aeroplane.
The bird will therefore soon be released back into the wild.
According to operations manager Taha, finches are quite common in the area around Erbil airport.
He said: “It is normal in every country. The sky is open to planes. Birds can fly anywhere they want.
“Erbil has plains and there are lots of these birds here. They can enter the airport and come into the terminal.”