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Pet owners among passengers departing for foreign destinations through Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) will no longer have to leave with a heavy heart on having to leave their dear pets back at home.

The facility for transportation of pets was introduced at CIAL, thus making it the only airport in Kerala with permission to export pets abroad. Luka, a Lhasa Apso breed puppy, emerged as the first pet to be moved using the facility when it was flown to Dubai via Doha as a cargo handled by Qatar Airways on June 6 (Thursday) morning. Luka belongs to Rajesh Susheelan and Kavitha Rajesh, a couple originally hailing from Attingal in Thiruvananthapuram. Rajesh manages a business in Dubai.

The service includes a round-the-clock air-conditioned pet station, a special cargo section, veterinary doctor on call, customs clearance centre, and a facilitation centre for individuals accompanying pets. Previously, CIAL only had authorisation for domestic departure and arrival of pets.

Now, pets can be carried as cargo in specially prepared cages to all foreign countries. Efforts are also on to obtain permission for direct import of pet animals from abroad. To facilitate this, a special ‘animal quarantine’ centre is being established.

In addition to the pet export facility, CIAL already has permission to export and import fruits and plants. To facilitate this, a ‘plant quarantine’ centre is operational near the cargo section. To avail the service, cargo handling agencies or airlines need to be contacted.

CIAL managing director S. Suhas emphasised the objective to equip the airport with facilities of the same standards found in India’s leading airports. “We are trying to offer a comprehensive package to our passengers. As part of this, all passenger touch points have been automated, and various value-added facilities have been established. The implementation of the animal import facility is under way. Also, sophisticated security systems like full body scanners will be introduced soon,” he said.

CIAL now has authorisation from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to import drugs and cosmetics, enabling stockists to import and stock them in bulk quantities. Earlier, only limited quantities could be imported with special permission.

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