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Noah’s ark

Airlines and operators with the specialist facilities necessary to handle live animal shipments are reporting strong demand for their services, as Helen Massy-Beresford finds out

Airlines with the facilities to safely and comfortably ship live animals, in compliance with IATA’s regulations, are enjoying growing demand for their services – and are investing to ensure they can keep up with the growth.

Demand is buoyant for a number of reasons, as reported by live animal transport specialist Intradco Global, part of the Chapman Freeborn Group.

“Emerging markets in general are behind the surge in demand for these services. It’s the ever-growing middle classes adopting new lifestyles, like equestrian sports, improving their diets – dairy and meat production – or spending more time and money on leisure and entertainment such as safari parks, aquariums and zoos,” says Charlie McMullen, Director at Intradco Global.

Equestrian events are on the rise worldwide,as are overseas postings, and expat pet ownersare increasingly realising that the cost of taking, for instance, a dog on a transatlantic flight, is not as high as many would imagine, at around €500, according to AIR FRANCE KLM MARTINAIR Cargo’s (AFIKLMP Cargo) Gerald Bergkamp, Commercial Director, Live.

From pets traveling with their owners to zoo transfers, the transportation of live animals represents about €60 million per year of business for AIR FRANCE KLM MARTINAIR Cargo.

This may not be a particularly large percentage of the €2.5 billion it records for cargo overall, but demand is steady, and the airline has built something of a name for itself in the sphere of live animal transport, Bergkamp says.

The airline’s animal hotel has been integral in cementing this reputation, with around 35 staff and on-call vets at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, where specially trained animal stewards keep watch over its animal passengers.

“Live animals is a mature business for us. It’s growing but with a limited pace,” Bergkamp says. “We were one of the first airlines to have an animal hotel, and we’ve built up a reputation and a skilled staff. For example, we ship about 10,000 horses on a yearly basis. It’s not about being cheap transport – it’s about whether you trust the airline with valuable horses,”  he adds.

Intradco Global is also seeing signs that the broader industry is ready to invest in animal facilities. “Many airlines are investing in their animal transportation to improve capabilities, which in turn can create a refreshed competitive environment, but in most cases these investments are actually beneficial for Intradco. As a broker and part of the Chapman Freeborn Group, we have access to the world’s largest network of both ‘established schedule operators’ and ‘independent ad-hoc operators’. We have a diverse global client base, and therefore need a truly global selection of aircraft of all sizes and shapes to cater for our clients’ needs. We are able to offer a greater level of flexibility when it comes to capacity and fleet-specific requirements, with quick reaction and turnover times, a truly global reach, and cost-efficient solutions for every type of shipment,” McMullen says.

About 80% of Intradco Global’s business is equine, with the rest split between transporting livestock and exotic animals. The company has one of the industry’s largest inventories of last generation equipment, such as horse and livestock stalls, and boasts a highly experienced team of expert professional grooms and dedicated flying cattle workers.

In recent times the company has focused efforts on strengthening its presence in the Middle East, as well as China, which it describes as increasingly important for them.  “This is predominantly due to changing regulations from the CIQ that has allowed for further live animal imports,” McMullen explains. >>

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