Virgin woos pets with new scheme


Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will be the first scheduled airline to start to carry cats and dogs from the USA into London Heathrow under the government's new Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)

The Pets, which only applies to cats and dogs commenced mid-May and will initially start between London and Los Angeles as a trial service. Extending to all USA routes after a three-month period from January 2004. The scheme will then be open to all (Pets) territories that Virgin operates to (USA, Japan, Antigua and Barbados).

The new scheme allows cats and dogs to travel from certain countries to enter or re-enter the UK without quarantine as long as they meet certain criteria.

Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, commented: "I am really excited to be able to implement this scheme. Cats and dogs are regarded by owners as one of the family, and I am pleased to offer our passengers the chance to take their pets away with them on holiday or bring them back home after a period of living abroad.

"On average 250 cats and dogs travel to the UK from the US each month and I hope that we will see this figure double as more airlines sign up to the scheme.

"As we expect some pets to be regular travellers with us we'll be introducing a special 'Pet Miles' section of the airline's flying Club to reward frequent flying animals. There'll be special 'Bone-us Miles' for the dogs and a 'Frequent Feline' club for the cats. We're talking to a number of reward partners and hope to offer special treatments and pampering weekends."