Re-pet-riation: Keeping Families Together

Between repatriating citizens stranded abroad, delivering important medical equipment to hospitals and ensuring supermarket shelves stay stocked, COVID-19 has meant that airlines have had to completely rethink how they are using cargo capacity. So where does that leave our furry companions who must travel, too?

Here at IAG Cargo, helping pets get where they need to be has always been important. When COVID-19 hit, we were quick to establish a global network of cargo-only flights on passenger aircraft. That has enabled us to continue moving our animal companions – as well as essential freight.

Transporting the scaly, fluffy and furry is definitely a team effort; from the dedicated people at Premia overseeing exports, imports and transits around the clock; the airside drivers on hand to collect animals arriving from late-night flights; to our colleagues who are closely monitoring schedules and keeping customers constantly updated on their pet’s progress home.   

Of all the reunions IAG Cargo has recently been a part of, our ongoing mission with pets of US Peace Corp Volunteers who were evacuated from Botswana in the wake of the pandemic has no doubt been one of our most rewarding.

Facing expected border closures and a looming lockdown, IAG Cargo teamed up with PETPort on the ground in South Africa to make sure 16 dogs and cats – all of which had been rescued by personnel – could secure a safe and swift escape. Animals were transported from the care of Gaborone Veterinary Clinic in Botswana to Johannesburg to be temporarily homed before flying out from BKC Boarding Facilities. With permits approved, paperwork finalised and vaccines administered, our partnership has already seen two successful flights so far – with more to come.

Trusted by some of the world’s most prestigious zoos and animal charities, IAG Cargo has been transporting pets of all shapes and sizes for over 60 years with the help of specialist pet travel agents to ensure customers continue to receive the highest level of care.

Scott Williams from Pet Express says, “When many airlines began battening down the hatches, Valerie Hadley [IAG Cargo’s Specialised Product Manager] and the IAG Cargo team were basically running towards the storm. The commitment to going above and beyond to find options, push barriers and come up with a solution has allowed so many pets and their owners to relocate – and be reunited! Hats off to the team at IAG for making things happen when it would have been easier to be saying no to pet shipments.”

Mike Gays of Global Pet Relocation says, “IAG have been a lifesaver for us and many other companies in the pet relocation industry. As COVID hit the international airline industry, we were seeing airline after airline stop accepting pets, stop flying to key areas and stop flying full stop in some cases. Val and the team did everything they could in order to keep some pet movements available for us which has proved invaluable. We were able to reunite 10 families in May that would have been impossible without them.”

To find out more about flying your pets home with IAG Cargo, click here.