Airlines across Europe have been doing their bit to help out with the war in Ukraine by transporting humanitarian supplies or offering cheap flight tickets to refugees. Now Bulgaria Air wants to help those fleeing the war by making it easier to bring their pets with them.
The Bulgarian flag carrier said it has removed all fees for transporting pets on its regular direct flights until the end of July 2022. The offer, with the motto “Because we know they are part of your family”, applies to passengers with a Ukrainian passport or refugee card.
“Pets are part of every family and therefore in such a complex international situation like the current one, the national carrier Bulgaria Air addresses all Ukrainian refugees, who are fleeing from the war, but do not want to leave their pets behind, with a special act,” the carrier explained in a press release on April 8, 2022.
The airline decided to act after calls from Humane Society International (HSI), which Bulgaria Air said had criticized airlines’ animal fees and transport policies. The EU has also said member states should ease requirements for pets entering the bloc from Ukraine.
“Seeing the potential to help, Bulgaria Air, which has been known for years for its hospitality to in-flight animals, has abolished fees for transporting dogs and cats for travellers with Ukrainian passport or refugee card,” the airline commented.
HSI welcomed the airline’s move. “Transport restrictions for pets can be yet another obstacle in the long trip to safety for those refugees who consider their cats, dogs or other companion animals as family members and refuse to leave them behind,” said Ruud Tombrock, Executive Director of HSI/Europe. “In the past weeks HSI/Europe has reached out to 75 transport companies asking them to do everything within their scope of power and resources to facilitate the access of pets on planes and buses.”
HSI has also been helping to provide pet supplies at refugee reception points in Germany, Italy and Poland. It highlighted in a press release on March 15, 2022, that pets have been a big support for those fleeing war.
“We have heard from refugees we’re helping in Berlin that the loyal companionship of their pets has kept them and their families going on the arduous journey to safety,” HSI Germany director, Sylvie Kremerskothen Gleason commented at the time. “For children especially, their pets are an enormous source of comfort to help them cope with the trauma of war.”