Airline forced to put on extra flight for sumo wrestlers due to weight concerns

Japan’s national carrier took the precaution after discovering the number of wrestlers on the flights

Chris Wilson
Tuesday 17 October 2023 11:06 BST
<p>Previous requirements for sumo wrestlers meant that athletes had to be at least five feet five inches or 10.5 stone </p>

Previous requirements for sumo wrestlers meant that athletes had to be at least five feet five inches or 10.5 stone

Japan Airlines was forced to put on an additional flights for a group of sumo wrestlers due to concerns that the combined additional weight of the passengers could have had safety implications.

The group were scheduled to fly on separate flights from Tokyo and Osaka to the island of Amami Oshima, about two-and-a-half hours southwest of the Japanese capital.

However, once airline staff discovered the number of wrestlers booked on the respective flights, they scheduled an additional plane to carry several of the athletes.

Concerns over the runway at Amami Oshima being able to accommodate a larger plane prompted the decision to put on an additional flight, reports the Daily Telegraph. Airline staff recognised the need for a larger aircraft estimating that each wrestler weighed around 120kg (18st 9lbs) – significantly more than the average person, at around 70kg (11st).

Instead, an additional flight was put on to carry 27 of the wrestlers, with 14 flying from Osaka to Tokyo to catch it. Extra flights were also arranged to take the athletes home after the competition.

A Japan Airlines spokesperson told a regional paper that “it is very rare for us to operate special flights due to … [aircraft] weight limits”.

The Independent has contacted Japan Airlines for comment.

Knowing plane and passenger weight is important for aviation safety and is a requirement from many Civil Aviation Authorities around the world.

In June of this year, Air New Zealand asked passengers to voluntarily weigh themselves before flights under an an “essential” initiative to ensure “the safe and efficient operation of the aircraft.”

This type of measure is also seen as vital in lessening the environmental effects of flying, helping airlines to use less fuel, and to use it more efficiently. In June, The Independent reported that a British technology company wants airlines to weigh their passengers to ensure that they operate the most fuel efficient flights.

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