By Shilpi Saurav Sharan and Vidhi Oberoi
In March of 2022 during the inception of the Russian-Ukraine war, Ukraine-based Indian residents and the Government of India were fraught with a new challenge; numerous Ukraine-based Indians were staring down a very real possibility of having to abandon their beloved pets while fleeing from the war zone. The Government of India, then, issued a one-time exemption and allowed such pets to be ferried along with their owners from Ukraine to India.
Pet Carriage Policy in India
Keeping aside the extraordinary events of the Ukrainian conflict, India does not have a comprehensive policy regarding the travel of pets on flights. As a matter of fact the International Civil Aviation Organization , a United Nations specialized agency which supports diplomacy and co-operation in the area of air transport, have no recommended practices with regard to carriage of pets in passenger compartment.
Most recently, the Times of India has reported that Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has advised all the private airlines operating in India to formulate and prominently display their respective policies vis-à-vis carriage of pets or live animals in the cabin. This is in conformity with the US based Federal Aviation Agency’s (FAA) guidelines to private airlines to formulate policies at organizational level regarding carriage of pets in aircraft.
The aforementioned guidelines by the DGCA have been issued under Rule 24C of Aircraft Rules 1937 which deals with permission needed to any animal, bird or reptile aboard an aircraft subject to conditions as per Aeronautical Information Circular 9 of 1985 (Carriage of animals/birds etc. by air).
Indian Airlines Policy Regarding Pet Carriage
Out of 11 Indian passenger airlines only Air India has a comprehensive pet policy. In brief, Air India allows for small inoffensive domestic pets such as dogs, cats and birds, accompanied by valid Health and Rabies vaccination certificates to be carried aboard Air India domestic flights in the cabin or in cargo hold at owner’s risk and subject to requirements of the carrier.
Most recently, Akasa Air has also formulated a pet carriage policy and has allowed pets to be carried in the cabin or in the cargo hold as per the airline’s pet policy. For instance, Akasa Air’s pet travel policy provides for 3 ways to travel with a pet viz.:
• In cabin with passenger – Maximum up to 7 kgs weight of the pet.
• Check-in at airport – Maximum up to 32 kgs weight of the pet.
• Travel from cargo terminal – Maximum up to 100 kgs weight of the pet.
The DGCA advisory is a welcome step towards creating a pet-friendly offering for owners travelling via air. The flexibility the said advisory provides the airlines would aid in catering different sections of travelers as per their requirement. Not only this, but It will also add to the travelers’ convenience and encourage more pet owners to travel by air who were hitherto travelling via road or rail.
Available at https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/air-india-flight-carrying-students-evacuated-from-ukrainian-city-sumy-lands-in-delhi-2816351
Available at https://www.icao.int/about-icao/Pages/default.aspx
Available at https://www.thequint.com/news/india/dgca-asks-airlines-to-prominently-display-pet-carriage-policy-on-their-websites#:~:text=Is%20there%20a%20global%20protocol,carrying%20pets%20in%20passenger%20compartments.
Available at https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/formulate-own-policy-for-carrying-pets-in-aircraft-cabin-dgca-to-indian-airlines/articleshow/97065755.cms
DGCA in India is the regulatory body in the field of Civil Aviation primarily dealing with safety issues (https://www.dgca.gov.in/)
Available at https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/moca_000947.pdf
Available at http://126.96.36.199/aic/aic09-85.htm
Available at http://188.8.131.52/nsoper/sch-oper.pdf
Available at https://www.akasaair.com/information/pets-on-akasa
Shantam Sharma, Intern at S.S. Rana & Co. has assisted in the research of this article.