A London-bound Air India flight carrying 240 passengers turned back to Mumbai after a rat was reportedly sighted aboard, the airline said.
A passenger thought they saw a rodent on the flight, CNN reported, but a search of the plane found no trace of it.
“No rat was found in the original aircraft,” airline spokesman G.P. Rao said. He added that the decision to turn back was for passenger safety.
Passengers were later flown to London on another plane.
As well as being a health hazard, rats can cause safety concerns if they chew through electrical wires.
A stowaway rat forced an Air India flight to Milan to return to New Delhi in July.
In August 2015, Air India grounded one of its A321s, reportedly because several dozen rats were scurrying around the cabin. That flight originated in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). On landing in New Delhi, passengers departed in a hurry, the aircraft was taken out of service and exterminators were called in.
“The most common way for rats to get on board an aircraft is through catering vans,” the Times of India observed on that occasion.
Written by Peter Needham