Tuesday, May 21, 2024
From stable to sky

From stable to sky

The safe and humane transportation of horses is a matter of paramount importance, necessitating a deep understanding of the various breeds of horses, their unique temperaments, and specific care requirements. This expertise is crucial in ensuring that each horse is provided with the safest and most comfortable travel conditions possible.

Each breed of horse has its own characteristics, behaviours, and needs. For instance, some breeds may be more prone to stress or anxiety during travel, while others might have specific dietary or space requirements. 

Etihad Cargo’s proficiency in transporting horses extends beyond mere logistics; it encompasses a comprehensive understanding of the necessary documentation, country-specific requirements, and transit approvals,” Arun Nair, Product Manager – LiveAnimals and SkyStables, said. 

“We have developed our product with a focus on ensuring a seamless, comfortable, and secure journey for horses and providing complete peace of mind for owners. This comprehensive approach is evident both during the booking process and throughout the operational execution of transporting these valuable animals.”

Care amid complex needs

Transporting horses via air presents a unique set of challenges, given the complex needs of these animals and the intricacies involved in ensuring their safety, comfort, and well-being during flights. Etihad Cargo, with its expertise in horse transportation, navigates these challenges through a combination of specialised infrastructure, dedicated teams, and a deep understanding of the nuances of equine care.

The transportation of live animals, especially horses, is inherently complex due to their size, the need for constant care, and the potential for stress and anxiety during transit. Etihad Cargo addresses these complexities via its CEIV Live Animals-certified SkyStables product, a multi-faceted approach and a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of animal welfare.

Moving horses via air cargo can also prove to be an intricately complex process, complicated by the fact that regulations regarding the transport of live animals vary greatly from one country to another. These regulations can encompass a wide array of requirements, including health and vaccination documentation, quarantine measures, and specific import/export permits. The diversity and specificity of these regulations mean that each journey must be meticulously planned and executed to ensure compliance at every step of the way.

“Etihad Cargo maintains an up-to-date knowledge base of the regulatory requirements for horse transport in different countries. This includes staying informed about changes in international laws, health and safety standards, and country-specific entry and exit requirements. This deep understanding allows Etihad Cargo to anticipate and meet the legal demands of each jurisdiction, ensuring a seamless transit process,” Nair highlighted.

“Etihad Cargo collaborates with equine experts, including veterinarians and professional grooms, who are well-versed in the nuances of horse transport. These experts ensure that health and welfare are prioritised throughout the journey, from pre-flight preparations to post-flight care. 

“We also ensure our ground handling partners, the facilities and animal reception centres at origin, transit and destination stations meet Etihad Cargo’s rigorous quality standards, ensuring the safety of horses at every stage of their journey.” 

READ: Etihad Cargo has partnered with Awery Aviation Software


While the numbers may vary, Etihad Cargo moves approximately 1,500 – 1,600 horses per year. The main routes are out of Abu Dhabi to Europe and the US during the hotter summer months and from Europe and the US to Abu Dhabi during the cooler months, when the Middle East is host to a number of world-famous equestrian events, including the Dubai World Cup.

Etihad Cargo also operates dedicated charters when required and has transported horses to events in the Middle East, including the Abu Dhabi World Championship, and to special events around the world, including Asia.

The carrier’s freighters are specially equipped to transport horses safely and comfortably. The freighters can accommodate up to 25 state-of-the-art stalls, providing ample space for the horses to be comfortable during their journey. Additionally, up to nine grooms per freighter can be accommodated, ensuring that each horse receives the attention and care it needs. 

The design of the stalls and the overall environment within the freighter are optimised for the comfort and safety of the horses. These are designed to mimic conditions that horses are accustomed to, ensuring the animals are at ease throughout the journey. 

“Etihad Cargo’s state-of-the-art horse stalls stand out as one of the best options available on the market for transporting horses, specially designed to offer unparalleled safety, comfort, and a calming environment,” Nair stated proudly.

“To maintain their superior condition, these stalls undergo regular maintenance and repair, ensuring they remain in top-notch condition. After every use, they are thoroughly checked and disinfected.

“This rigorous attention to detail and commitment to quality has resulted in Etihad Cargo receiving very positive feedback from partners and customers alike, solidifying the carrier’s reputation as a leader in the transportation of horses, where the welfare of the animals is always the top priority.”

READ: Etihad Cargo issues promise to customers

Healthy operations

The foundation for a stress-free experience for both the horses and their owners begins with a robust booking process. Etihad Cargo has established a dedicated team that is available around the clock, 24/7, to manage bookings with precision and care. 

This team plays a crucial role in coordinating flights, arranging the necessary stalls for the horses, and ensuring that all grooms not only hold valid certifications but have also received the appropriate training and have undergone security clearance. This meticulous vetting process guarantees that the horses are in safe, capable hands throughout their journey.

The team diligently checks that all documentation is thoroughly in order, covering landing, transit, and health certifications. This comprehensive documentation review is critical in ensuring that all regulatory and health standards are met, facilitating a smooth and uninterrupted journey for the horses.

Once the reservation process has been completed, Etihad Cargo’s commitment to excellence extends to its freighter operations team. This team engages proactively with customers before the flight, ensuring that all details are meticulously planned and that any special requirements are understood and addressed. This proactive communication is key to anticipating and mitigating any issues that might arise, ensuring a smooth operation.

“Our expertise ensures that all regulatory and health standards are met without delays or complications, providing a seamless experience for the customers and the horses alike,” Nair outlined.

“It also enables us to address the unique challenges presented when transporting multiple horses simultaneously, including compatibility. 

“Etihad Cargo takes this into consideration by carefully planning the placement of horses within the freighter to prevent stress, injury, or conflict. This involves understanding the horses’ backgrounds, temperaments, and any previous travel experiences to make informed decisions about their compatibility during transport.

“Preventing cross-contamination is equally crucial, as it ensures the health and safety of all animals on board. Etihad Cargo implements stringent biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of diseases, including regular disinfection procedures and health checks. This comprehensive approach to health and safety underscores Etihad Cargo’s dedication to providing a secure environment for the horses under its care.”

Picture of James Graham

James Graham

James Graham is an award-winning transport media journalist with a long background in the commercial freight sector, including commercial aviation and the aviation supply chain. He was the initial Air Cargo Week journalist and retuned later for a stint as editor. He continues his association as editor of the monthly supplements. He has reported for the newspaper from global locations as well as the UK.


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