Plane delayed by bird on board

SEOUL Wed Oct 7, 2009 1:13pm EDT

Hundreds of sparrows fill the sky above the city of Pontevedra, northwestern Spain, at sunset November 9, 2004. REUTERS/Miguel Vidal

Hundreds of sparrows fill the sky above the city of Pontevedra, northwestern Spain, at sunset November 9, 2004.

Credit: Reuters/Miguel Vidal

SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean passenger jet was grounded just before taking off so that crew members could catch a sparrow that was flying around in the cabin, airline officials said on Wednesday.

"The bird got in through an open airplane door and was spotted during boarding," said Cho Hyung-chul, a spokesman for Korean Air Line. The passengers on the flight were asked to leave the plane as the airline tried to prevent the bird from taking the domestic flight.

"The bird was captured and set free," Cho said.

The flight's 123 passengers were put on board a different plane and sent on their journey, which was delayed for nearly three hours, the airline said.

Birds are a growing problem for the global airline industry, with an increasing number of planes getting damaged after hitting flocks of birds.

(Reporting by Christine Kim, writing Jon Herskovitz, editing by Miral Fahmy)

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