Air cargo’s esteemed guests

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Live animal transportation by air today is a risky business, but more and more transport players are specialising with this product. Namrata More

There are certain factors that need to be considered when transporting animals to ensure that they are handled with care and in the most humane manner possible. Which is why, the industry is now coming forward to provide end-to-end solutions. Right from the necessary tests required before flying, import or export permit requirements at the port of arrival and departure along with the customs procedures to other basic details are all included. “We continue to offer special equipment, experience and care for live animal freight, as well as onboard escorts for the well-being of the animals, advantages that our customers appreciate,” said Navot Hirschhorn of C.A.L Cargo Airlines. The Israel headquartered airline has 37 years of experience handling live animal cargo including horses, cattle, exotic animals, family pets, fish, poultry, bees, and birds. In 2014, together with ground handler Liege Air Cargo Handling Services.As one of its challenging projects, the carrier also transported three flights of 150 impregnated cows each from JFK - John F. Kennedy International Airportto Istanbul in Turkey. Finnair Cargo recently transported a two-year old snow leopard transported on from Finland to Belgium. The snow leopard travelled four hours by road from Ähtäri Zoo in western Finland to the Finnish capital Helsinki before being flown to Belgium and embarking on another 70-kilometer road trip to Pairi Daiza garden zoo. Transporting dangerous animals safely by air requires specialist know-how. “We have to consider everything from stress-free conditions, health of the animals, legislation and paper work, so it takes time before an animal can actually fly. There are not so many agencies that can handle this kind of cargo assignment,” said a. hartrodt’s Tim Van Praet. Animal Logistics Worldwide, a division of a. hartrodt, provided the transportation for the snow leopard from Belgium. In November 2014, Virgin Atlantic Cargo gave its support to a conservation project led by the governments of Montserrat and Dominica and zoological experts in the UK, Jersey and Sweden to save the critically-endangered mountain chicken frog, one of the largest frogs in the world. Working closely with JCS Livestock, a division of James Cargo Services Ltd, the airline carried 57 frogs bred at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey and ZSL London Zoo as part of a conservation project on its scheduled flight to Antigua. For the final leg of their journey, the frogs boarded a charter flight to Montserrat. All of the frogs arrived ‘home’ safely in Montserrat, where they were placed in a temporary holding facility to be rehydrated and rested for several days before being taken into the forest and released into the wild.Virgin Atlantic Cargo also recently partnered with City of London’s Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (HARC) to trial a pre-check service for pets landing in the UK on the airline’s flights. The service aims to comfort pet owners by eliminating stress caused by the uncertainty of not knowing if their pets will meet the entry requirements of the UK Pet Travel Scheme. The trial, will also enable owners to correct any errors or obtain additional information before their pets travel. Virgin Atlantic Cargo was the first airline to be approved to fly pets direct from the USA to the UK under the UK Pet Travel Scheme in 2003 and offers a unique service to its customers which manages the safe and comfortable movements of their pets from booking, collection, and clearance through to being reunited with their owners. Virgin Atlantic has safely carried over 20,000 pets since the launch of its dedicated pet travel service. John Lloyd, Director of Cargo at Virgin Atlantic in a press statement, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to participate in this trial because carrying pets is an important part of our business. Giving customers the opportunity to have all of their pets’ paperwork checked prior to travel is a very welcome initiative. It will not only give pet owners peace of mind, it will also speed up the process of them being reunited with their pets on the day of arrival.” Among the transportation of live animals, there is huge demand picking up for horses in markets like US and China. “The number of horses being flown to China is growing and the US market is beginning to show signs of recovery following the economic downturn,” said Ulrich Ogiermann, chief officer cargo for Qatar Airways. “Every year the number of horses moving through Qatar Airways Cargo’s network grows, as does the number of charter flights we organise for horse movements.” Qatar Airways Cargo transports horses around the world to participate in popular equine exhibitions and show-jumping events such as CHI AL SHAQAB and the FEI World Cup. As the official airline partner for CHI AL SHAQAB in March, the airline provided three freighters transporting 200 horses from 33 countries to Qatar to participate in the competition. “Qatar Airways Cargo has a team of experts who specifically handle horses, and provide appropriate care and a high quality environment. We ensure the animals receive first class treatment all the way to their destination.” Horses are transported on dedicated freighter aircraft and are loaded into stalls, which are special containers that can fit up to three horses side by side.“Although we suggest that only two horses share a stall to provide them with comfortable, safe and secure transport while on the aircraft, we also recommend that grooms and a veterinarian travel with them on extended journeys to tend to them whilst in the air.” This year in February, Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl) handled all 62 horses competing in the prestigious Longines Hong Kong Masters. It is the third successive year that Hactl handled the event’s equine show jumping stars, representing one of the largest horse handling assignments in the company’s 38 year history. The 62 horsesarrived from Liege, on board a freighter flight operated by carrier Emirates SkyCargo. The horses were unloaded from the aircraft and transferred to Hactl’s Livestock Handling Centre, specially located to minimise exposure to potentially stressful ramp noise. The horses were ferried to the Centre in their air stalls, and then utilising a specially designed gently sloping ramp to prevent leg injuries they boarded waiting air-conditioned horse-boxes arranged by The Hong Kong Jockey Club. “Horses are not difficult because they travel quite well and we have specialist treatment for them,” said Mark Whitehead, CEO of Hactl. As for other kind of live cargo, Hactl handles a lot of fresh fish for the Hong Kong market. “We do it in a way that they arrive in Hong Kong alive, and can be taken out of the aircraft and straight away put on to a specialist truck, designed to carry them fresh. The principle is to keep it short and simple as possible and avoiding stress.” Transportation of live animals must be in accordance with International Air Transport Association (IATA) Live Animal Regulations and local country regulations.“Ensuring the wellbeing of the animals throughout transit is our priority, keeping connection times to a minimum is important as is proving qualified and dedicated staff together with the best possible facilities for different types of animals,” said Ogiermann.At Hamad International Airport the airlineoffers a state-of-the-art live animal facility that meets the highest international standards and is managed by staffs that are trained specifically to care for animals. The facility includes veterinary services and laboratory, holding areas and stalls, washing bays, feeding area, sick bays, and quarantine and exercise area. In April,Qatar Airways transported 40 show jumping and dressage horses from Amsterdam to Las Vegas for a major equestrian event. A B777F aircraft was equipped with air stables, and two horses carefully loaded in each of the stables to allow the precious cargo to travel in comfort throughout the 11 hour flight. On board the freighter, 10 grooms and a veterinarian ensured their journey from Schiphol, Amsterdam to McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, United States was comfortable and that they were supplied with food and water. An additional 11 tonnes of equipment including tack, blankets and boots was also loaded onto the flight. According to Hirschhorn of C.A.L, safe transportation of live animals by air cargo is based on controlling three environmental factors: temperature, humidity level and cargo compartment carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration. Each type of animal has unique environmental requirements that must be taken into consideration for optimal health. To ensure the health of the live animals, proper environmental control system (ECS) settings, animal handling, packaging and loading procedures must be used. The higher the air temperature, the more time is required to cool the cargo compartment prior to loading animals. Temperature is also dependent on quantity, size and type of animal cargo. “These factors affect the heat load, moisture and CO2 in the cargo compartment. Heat soak and preconditioning the cargo compartment both affect the amount of the time required to reach the desired temperature,” added Hirschhorn. Furthermore, the longer the time that the airplane is on the ground with loaded live animal cargo, the longer it will take to cool the cargo compartment to a desired temperature. “CAL has a specific advantage here, as across our entire chain our fleet is parked right on the "waterline", just in front of our warehouse, meaning animals are exposed to very minimal temperature and environmental deviations.” Animal packaging and stocking densities are also taken into consideration. Hirschhorn also warns ofgrowing competition from sea freight, even though the animals are left alone for large amounts of time. “Despite that, CAL is committed to 747-400 open nose door freighters to support our operational specialty in transporting live animals, and our customers continue to use our freighters.”

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