AIR passengers will be able to fly their pets into and out of Scotland after the country’s first animal reception centre opened at Edinburgh Airport.
The border inspection post, officially launched yesterday by Edinburgh freight-forwarding company Extrordinair, means Scots no longer have to travel to the UK’s other approved centres in London and Manchester if they want to take pets.
Passengers using the centre will have to pre-book its services, with staff requiring advance information on measurements and the type of kennel required.
Pets flying from the airport will also have a three-hour check-in period so that paperwork can be processed and animals transported to a special section of the plane’s hold.
Sylvia Fleming, founder and director of Extrordinair, said: “I had to go on my gut instinct with this centre. It has never existed in Scotland before and I don’t know why.
“This is really about looking after the welfare of animals. Our new facility means that animals flying into Scotland can be reunited with their owners within hours of touchdown, provided that they have a valid Pet Passport or EU third country health certificate and comply with Defra regulations.
“The service makes things much easier for owners and for pets, as a prolonged period of travel or separation can cause them stress.”
Ms Fleming said there was no way of forecasting the impact of the opening on the number of people using Edinburgh Airport but added that the centre’s services could be expanded if new international routes were agreed.
She said: “There are expansion possibilities but it all depends on demand and space.
“There are all sorts of possibilities that we do not have in Scottish airports at the moment and which are handled down south.
“If the demand was there then I would look at expanding facilities to include things like foodstuffs and animal products for human consumption.”
Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar said: “More than nine million passengers travel through Edinburgh Airport every year, and we’re constantly looking at how we can offer them more choice.
“We know it’s been an inconvenience for passengers to have to travel to England first when they’re bringing their pets back to the country so we’ve worked with Extrordinair to set up Scotland’s first small animal border inspection post to give them the option of transporting small animals directly to the Capital.”