An initiative of BidAir Cargo, The PetLounge moves over 40 000 pets domestically every year on kulula.com and British Airways.
Pets travel to and from secure, air-conditioned PetLounges on the Republic’s airports. These facilities are away from the noise, bustle and fumes of ground operations to keep the pets stress-free in surroundings where they are cared for by specially-trained animal handlers. This has opened a new pet-travel segment by making it easy for families to take pets with them on holiday.
In planning and designing the PetLounge, BidAir Cargo drew on global best practices to ensure the service met global standards. Locally the company sought input from the State Vet, SPCA, animal travel agencies, breeder associations, rescue charities, veterinary experts, individual pet owners and the airport’s company.
BidAir Cargo founded the PetLounge in 2011.
“The Logistics Achiever Awards panel gave our concept points for originality,“ says Roy Solomons, BidAir Cargo chief commercial officer.
“We broke away from airline practice which often requires owners to hand their pets across the cargo counter. Our model is based on separate customised facilities at all airports – not just the international gateway – staffed by specialist, certified pet-handlers. This is why after five years, the LAA awarded us the prestigious Gold Award.”
From the PetLounge, staff accompany pets to their flight shortly before take-off and secure them in pressurised forward compartments where the first officer can keep an eye on temperature and status. On arrival, they are first off to minimise time away from their owners.
“This is a no-compromise service where the animal’s safety and comfort are paramount. Accordingly, we are strict about the travel containers we accept,” says Solomons. “This is to ensure that the pet has enough room to stand and turn around and cannot escape during transit.”
PetLounges are established in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and George.
Pets are also accommodated in segregated premises at other airports. These facilities will be fully upgraded to PetLounges early in 2017.