This announcement follows a successful trial package tour conducted by ANA in late May of this year.
On that occasion, 87 passengers with between them 44 dogs were flown from Narita Airport to Kushiro in Hokkaido for a two-night stay.
According to the Japan Times, the basic package for two adults and one dog cost around ¥220,000 ($2,195 or €1,940).
What ANA’s trial flight demonstrated is that there is ample demand for services like this. Within just two days of going on sale, the tickets had already sold out.
Airlines usually require pets to travel in the cargo hold for domestic flights. For many pet owners this is a cause for serious concern, as they worry about the temperatures in the cargo hold.
This issue has also been acknowledged by some airlines.
The Japan Times article notes that ANA, for example, will not allow short-nosed dogs like bulldogs and chins to travel in the cargo area during the hot summer months, as these dogs are particularly prone to heat stroke and respiratory issues.
On the ANA trial flight, however, dogs travelled in the cabin alongside human passengers, albeit in cages strapped to the window seats.
There was also a veterinarian on hand in case any issues arose.
This is not the first time ANA has allowed animals to travel alongside human passengers. Prior to 2005, pets were allowed in the cabin on the airline’s international flights.
The service was discontinued, however, following complaints from passengers who suffered from allergies, or who generally felt uneasy in this environment.
The airline discovered an additional issue after the May trial. Specifically, that some passengers were reluctant to ride in an aircraft that had previously accommodated animals.
In response to this, ANA officials made clear that if the company does launch regular pet flights, it will do much more to inform customers about the way the cabin is cleaned after each flight.
Despite this concerns, there are those in the tourism industry who expect great success if tours with pets do take off.
Professor of international tourism at Toyo University, Katsuhiko Shoji, who also happens to head a nationwide association promoting tours with pets, goes so far as to say that, “If long-distance travel becomes easier for them, Japan’s tourism industry will be revitalised.”
At the same time, Prof Shoji highlighted the need for cooperation from other actors in the leisure industry, such as hotels.
“Enabling pets to board the airplane is not the end goal. The cooperation of entities at the destination is also necessary,” he said.
Sources include: Japan Times
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