Southwest Airlines
The incident happened on Dec. 27 when the flight took off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/Reuters

A flight that took off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Wednesday was forced to make an emergency landing due to a bird-related issue.

Southwest Flight 1416 was on its way to Austin, Texas when it struck a bird in the air just after take-off. As per various media reports, the incident happened at 11:45 AM, around 30 minutes after takeoff from the airport in Florida.

The flight subsequently returned to the Fort Lauderdale airport in South Florida and was grounded at a terminal by around 12: 30 PM. It was initially scheduled to land in Austin at 1:14 PM.

In radio transmissions, the pilot of the Southwest aircraft said: "Departure, 1416. We had a big flock of birds we went through and may have even hit one there."

Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue said that shortly after 11:30 AM on Wednesday they were informed of the bird strike. A non-emergency was declared and fire crews were sent to the airport. The plane landed safely just before noon, with fire crews deployed on the tarmac as a precaution.

A statement released by Southwest Airlines said that their pilots were able to land safely, prioritising safety, and evacuated all 145 passengers.

"Our Pilots followed trained procedures and safely returned to Fort Lauderdale, where the aircraft taxied to a gate. To allow for further inspection, a separate aircraft will operate the flight to AUS. We apologize to our Customers for the inconvenience and we commend the swift, professional actions of our Flight Crew in response to the event," a statement from Southwest Airlines read.

Among the passengers were Susan and Brad Slutsky who said they were just happy about landing safely even though the unforeseen incident disrupted their travel plans.

"At least we came down, and we were safe," said Susan.

"We started making a U-turn and heading back east over the ocean, and the next thing you know, they said we were hit, a bird strike. We circled around and burned off some gas and headed back here, and then the flight was cancelled, and we could see them on the side of the plane looking at the damage to the wing," said Brad.

While most passengers boarded another plane to Austin, the Slutskys had to stay behind one more day, as their final destination was Park City, Utah.

It has also been reported that the officials have not specified where exactly the bird hit the plane but will soon determine the extent of the damage.