Air Transport Group Sets Animal-Handling Standards
The International Air Transport Association says its new program for shipping live animals was in the works before an incident last month in which a dog died on a United Airlines flight. The voluntary program will certify carriers that meet standards for safely handling animals.
After a dog died in an overhead bin on a United Airlines flight last month, travelers were shocked and angry. Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association was already working on a certification program that it says will help prevent exactly that kind of incident.
Last week, IATA announced it would extend its Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) program, which supports carriers in meeting standards for transporting air cargo, to the safe transport of live animals. The program will certify airlines that meet certain baseline standards for handling animals in the air.
“Last year millions of animals travelled safely and securely by air. Animal owners and shippers rely heavily on airlines to carry their precious cargo,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president of airport, passenger, cargo, and security, in a news release. “As an industry, we have a duty of care to ensure that standards and best practices are in place around the world to protect the welfare of these animals.”
The program comes just weeks after an incident in which a passenger’s dog was loaded inside an overhead bin on a three-hour United flight from Houston to New York City. The dog died during the flight, and United later admitted that a flight attendant had made a mistake in requiring the animal to be stowed away.
“We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them,” the airline said in a statement to CNN last month.
According to Air Cargo News, the IATA program was already in development at the time, complete with a pilot program that involved London’s Heathrow Animal Reception Centre and Air Canada Cargo. But last month’s incident gives the program new urgency.
United told ABC News it would “consider any reasonable recommendation that improves the overall safety and comfort of all animals that we fly.”
The CEIV program includes a separate certification for another type of sensitive cargo: pharmaceutical products. CEIV Pharma helps airlines comply with manufacturer requirements for the proper shipping of pharmaceuticals.
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