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Pet air service boon for breeders and owners

When Covid-19 shut down normal airline movements last year it left many of man's best friends – both of the canine and feline variety - stranded across New Zealand.

Puppies ready to go to new homes here were left in limbo.

When hearing of this dilemma Air Napier stepped up and set up a dedicated live animal transport service using one of their twin-engine planes – the first service of its kind (that they know of) in New Zealand. The initial routes were aimed at Central North Island and Christchurch.

Air Napier chief executive Shah Aslam said the decision to branch out into animal freight was a win-win.

“Breeders came to us during lockdown and explained the challenge they were facing of moving puppies to their new homes,” he said.

“So, we said we could help solve this problem and unite these furry bundles of joy with their new families.

“At Air Napier we saw this as both a business opportunity and a practical way of helping families longing for their new pets to come home.”

It is a service Air Napier has continued to offer as New Zealand returned to normal, running out of Napier and Gisborne.

“During lockdown we spoke to people who had their pets delivered to them in Christchurch and they appreciated the ease of taking delivery of their pet at the airport,” Mr Aslam said.

“Those sending pets also found the process easy and quick with little stress on the pet and no waiting around with a third party travel service. Our flights aim to minimise the time pets spend in their cages in transit as the flights are direct.”

Once news got out that there was a 24-7 pet carrier flight service, the whole of New Zealand's breeders and owners of all walks of life started making inquiries.

“We had people inquire about transporting different types of birds — even an exotic fish breeder asked if we could move their animals,” Mr Aslam said.

“While that may be possible in the future at this stage we will concentrate on just cats and dogs — in separate cages of course.”

Each pet flight can take up to 15 pets in individual PP40 cages, which owners have to provide, and pets will be seated on a first come, first served basis.

WALKIES: Pilot Luke Gordon with another successful delivery of furry joy from Air Napier's pet service. Picture supplied