Thomson Airways and Robin Hood Airport, Doncaster, have been doing a brisk trade in ‘pet passports’ according to local newspaper The Star.
The airport was visited by almost 100 furry passengers in 2010, with Paphos in Cyprus proving to be the most popular holiday destination for domestic pets flying from South Yorkshire.
Robin Hood’s pet passport scheme is operated by Anglo European Express, a cargo firm based on the airport grounds. The company has a license to transport dogs, cats and ferrets that have been verified as disease-free by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, otherwise known as DEFRA.
Pets can travel to the UK’s closest neighbours – Spain, France, Italy, Germany and even Greenland – or somewhere exotic, such as Australia, Bahrain or the island nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific.
Whilst Rover and Tiddles might not appreciate the difference between a moonlit stroll down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris and a jaunt down a cracked pavement in the centre of Doncaster, the pet passport scheme helps take the heartache out of leaving a beloved family pet in kennels or, even worse, with the in-laws.
Thomson Airways claims that more than 1,600 animals were transported from six UK airports in 2010, including the 100 or so that departed from Robin Hood. The most common species of traveller was, of course, the dog, with 1,147 carried. Parrots, hawks, lemurs and nature’s slugabed, the tortoise, were also booked onto flights to Europe and beyond.
Despite the apparent popularity of pet passports, the scheme is likely to have limited appeal to holidaymakers, given the added expense of purchasing the license and the difficulty of finding pet-friendly hotels abroad. However, emigrating Brits and those lucky few with properties in warmer climes will pounce on the opportunity to throw a ball for their own disinterested feline on a white sandy beach.
For more information about pet passports, visit the Heathrow Airport Guidesl Pet Travel Guide.