Moscow, Aug 24: Terrified airline passengers panicked when two hives of bees smuggled onto a plane for a flight across Russia escaped in mid-air and began swarming around the cabin, The Telegraph reported.
The bees - sneaked on board in cardboard boxes - are understood to have become agitated in the pressurised cabin during the 10-hour Yakutia Airline flight to Moscow from Blagoveshchensk near Russia's border with China.
The trafficker - who has not been named by the airline - claims an airport official at Blagoveshchensk had asked him to carry the boxes to Moscow where he would be met at the airport.
Official airport documents quoted a passenger as saying that the trafficker was “slightly drunk.”
Air hostesses eventually managed to seal the bees inside the wardrobe in the flight's business section by sealing it with sticky tape.
But when the plane arrived at its next destination, Barcelona, a new crew discovered that the fumigation had not been completely successful with five bees still on the plane, Russian newspapers reported.
Now the carrier could be stung with a massive £100,000 bill for having the fumigate the Boeing 757 jet and to compensate for the delays caused to the plane's ongoing journey to Spain.
The incident raises concerns about flight safety on Russian internal flights as well as the impunity of airport officials.
Baggage handlers in Blagoveshchensk told a Russian newspaper that a senior airport official could “carry on board anything he likes.”
A famous Russian circus act, the Zapashny brothers, asked if they could bring a caged white tiger cub into the cabin with them. The airport management did not immediately turn down the request and was still considering, Rossiskaya Gazeta reported last week.
In the 1990s, it was not unheard of for passengers to bring animals, in particular farm animals, into the cabin on internal flights when regulation was more lax than today. A famous Soviet film “Mimino” shows a helicopter pilot delivering sheep and a cow.