Dubai: It was last year that newly launched private charter firm G6 Aviation received an unusual request. Ten passengers and 10 dogs had to be flown from London to New Jersey.
Up until then, G6 was chartering high-net-worth individuals and pop artists, but this new demand led to the birth of another venture – K9 Jets. Frustrated with the inflexible regulations set by commercial airlines for travelling with pets, owners had been turning to private charters to fly alongside their beloved companions. And that’s where pay-per-seat private jet charter service K9 Jets took off.
The company, which began services in May this year, has already chartered 150 pets and their July-August summer charters are sold out, said company Founder and Client Director Adam Golder. By the end of the year, the company aims to charter 700 pets. Driven by demand for the service, the UK-based company is launching its first Dubai-London service on September 25, said Golder, who started the company with his wife Kirsty.
“Since our launch, most of our flights have been transatlantic. But we have had so many requests, phone calls and enquiries from Dubai, so we decided to launch the service,” said Golder. “Regarding pre-bookings from Dubai, we have had four passengers book seats in the first hour of launch. We are a small company and must sell a certain number of seats to be financially viable. We have plans to sell approximately 15 seats on the Dubai-London service,” he added. The private aviation company plans on operating a second Dubai-London flight in December. “This is for families who want to come back to the UK during the winter break… depending on demand, we will be operating other flights as well,” said Golder.
About 75 per cent of the company’s customers are middle-class folks looking to relocate for work and cannot afford to charter an entire jet by themselves. “It’s a mix of professions from banking to tech; we’ve had a few US military persons use our services as well. The remaining travel is for pleasure. Some have a house in London and want to travel for the holidays,” he added.
How did K9 Jets come about?
K9 Jets is a sister concern of private charter firm G6 Aviation – a company launched amidst the pandemic in February 2021. “Our usual roster of passengers until that point was high-net-worth individuals (HNIs) and pop stars. We received this call requesting to charter 10 pets from a grassroots Facebook group whose mission was to link up people interested in sharing charter planes so their pets didn’t have to fly as cargo/ excess baggage,” he said.
Commercial airlines impose strict regulations on airborne animals, especially larger ones that must travel in cargo holds or as freight. Owners often pay hefty sums, including hundreds of dollars for pet transportation and additional costs for custom crates for supersize dogs. Except for a few airlines, including Etihad Airways, which allows pets weighing under 8kg (including crate size) to travel onboard, most regional carriers require pets to travel in the cargo hold. The process is a stressful one, and sometimes results in serious injury or loss of pets.
That’s where Golder saw an opportunity and launched K9 Jets. “We are looking at destinations in the Far East next,” he added. The company charters the flights (Gulfstream) from a US-based pet-friendly operator and can travel seven to eight hours.
How does it work?
The service from Dubai will be offered from the private jet terminal at Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC). Pre-travel paperwork, including medical certificates and export-import documents, is mandatory. Passengers can check in an hour before travel, and there would be a 15-minute familiarisation session with the other pets on board. “We devise a seating plan based on the pets’ temperament. We try and keep assertive pets apart from each other. There are a few barks in the beginning, but they tend to calm down and sleep through most of the flight due to the white noise,” said Golder.
Pets must always be leashed and stay by the owner’s side. “Once the flight arrives at Farnborough private jet terminal, border force comes into the airport to check passports, and officials come into scan the pet’s microchip and check documents,” he explained. Since the service works on the seat-sharing model, the flight will be confirmed once a 75 per cent passenger and pet threshold is reached for the full route.