02 Mar Departing Hong Kong residents fly their pets out of city on private jets
Renting a private jet for your pet isn’t something you hear of every day. After all, private jets are typically associated with discerning travelers, business professionals, and the upper class of society. Sure, these people sometimes travel with their pets on private flights, but to book a private jet just because of their pets is a whole new phenomenon that is becoming increasingly popular for Hong Kong residents.
Fast forward to 2022, and this seemingly odd scenario is one that private jet companies are seeing for the ‘average’ everyday traveler, with more passengers shifting away from commercial flights in favor of private jets more accommodating of their fur babies such as cats and dogs.
In some cases, desperate pet parents are even pooling their funds to book a private chartered jet just for their fur family.
But what gives?
Hong Kong’s Exceedingly Strict COVID Policies
Hong Kong is an increasingly isolated city, with droves of residents abandoning its confines as the global pandemic takes its toll. Home to some of the world’s toughest COVID policies, virtually all ‘non-residents’ are banned from entering the city, an altogether disruptive policy that has affected everything from business to social and family gatherings.
Local residents returning to Hong Kong are further subjected to a 3-week government-mandated quarantine period, often taking place in expensive hotels or at government-specified quarantine facilities. This quarantine rule is imposed even if returning residents have tested negative several times.
COVID Restrictions Extended to Pets
Adding insult to injury, Hong Kong’s efforts to rid the nation of COVID have extended to include significant restrictions on pets. Worse yet, recently the HK government resorted to exterminating over 1,000 hamsters, stirring fears among more than 140 pet shop visitors that animal-to-human transmission could be a possibility.
A Modern Exodus
As a result of such policies, a poll published on CNN reported that as many as 40% of expats polled in 2021 were considering making an exit for good, permanently relocating their families to more friendly jurisdictions.
Several countries have gladly accepted migrants looking to move from Hong Kong to other countries, with Canada, Australia, and the UK setting up immigration schemes to support those looking to escape geopolitical unrest in the Chinese region.
According to recent census records, Hong Kong’s population declined by a record 1.2% during the first half of the 2021 calendar year.
Pets Now Flying on Private Jets Have Become the Norm
With their bags packed and ready to go, many HK residents have become concerned about what they will do with their pets. Cargo and COVID restrictions on standard commercial airlines have made it exceptionally difficult to find safe passage for their fur family out of Hong Kong.
This has led those who can afford it to seek out alternative means of transportation, namely private jet charters. It’s a comparatively more expensive option than flying commercial, but when faced with the heartache of leaving a beloved pet behind, it is well worth the cost of admission.
Generally reserved for business class and discerning travelers, Hong Kong residents with pets are booking private jet charters at an unparalleled pace, putting increased demand pressure on the industry.
When asked, many of the passengers stated they would normally not fly private given a cheaper option, but refused to leave their fur family behind, seeking out more accommodating private jet companies as a safer alternative.
Commercial Airline Restrictions on Pets
Commercial airlines already restrict the number of pets that are allowed on a plane, with flight cancellations and COVID restrictions causing a significant backlog in those looking to get their pets out of the city.
According to animal travel company Pet Holidays, last December’s flight suspensions resulted in between 3000-4000 stranded cats and dogs.
According to pet emigration consultants, its not a matter of paying higher fees to allocate space for pets, its simply that there isn’t allocated space available for pets.
Zero COVID Policy Makes the Future Uncertain
China remains one of the few places in the world that still imposes a ‘zero covid’ policy countrywide. This has had a significant impact on Hong Kong, once a major travel and aviation hub. With the emergence of Omicron and other variants, the future for Hong Kong travel and its residents remains largely uncertain, with limited carriers allowed in and out of the city.
For residents with pets, private jet charters offer a last hope for not leaving their pets behind. Some families are pooling funds to book a jet together in an effort to make the move a more affordable one.
Unfortunately, for those unable to afford a private jet, but who must leave HK, pets are often left behind, leading to a marked increase in abandoned dogs now roaming freely across Hong Kong and surrounding suburbs.
BitLux knows that pets are family and should never be left behind if it is in any way avoidable. The company continues to work with clients to do everything it can to support those needing to get their pet family out of HK safely.