Qatar Airways Commits To Fly Wild Animals To Their Homes For Free

The cargo division of Middle East carrier Qatar Airways has pledged its voluntary involvement in a wildlife rehoming scheme. The project, known as ‘Rewild the Planet,’ represents the second chapter in its ‘WeQare’ sustainability program. It also reflects the airline’s commitment against the illegal trading and trafficking of wild animals.

Qatar Cargo Boeing 777F New York JFK
Qatar Airways Cargo’s wildlife relocation project is part of its sustainability program. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |

Voluntary wildlife relocation

Qatar Airways Cargo has today announced a strong commitment to the preservation of wildlife and endangered animals. Specifically, this will involve a pledge to “transport these animals back to their natural habitat, free of charge.”

This represents the latest step in a rich history of the airline’s involvement with wildlife preservation. Indeed, it was an “inaugural signatory to the Buckingham Palace Declaration in March 2016,” which aims to prevent animal trafficking.

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Qatar Airways Cargo Boeing 777F New York JFK
Qatar Airways Cargo will be transporting the wild animals in question free of charge. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |

It also helped found the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, and has a “zero-tolerance policy towards the illegal trade of endangered wildlife.” Guillaume Halleux, the Chief Officer for cargo at Qatar Airways, welcomed the Rewild the Planet project’s commencement. He stated that,

We all know that animals have an important role to play in preserving ecological balance which in turn ensures the existence and stability of the environment. (…) That is why we are offering free transport to bring wild animals back to where they belong.”

Hoping for a ripple effect of engagement

Rewild the Planet represents part of Qatar Airways’ wider WeQare sustainability program. As an industry leader, the carrier hopes that its presence in sustainable projects will create a ripple effect. With this, it wants to inspire others to prioritize sustainability, at a time when environmental factors are playing an increasing part in everyday consumer trends.

Moving forward, Qatar Airways plans on launching several more chapters to help the WeQare program grow. It will link these two aspects of its everyday operations, representing an admirable and conscious commitment from a leader in an industry whose high emission levels are no secret. Specifically, the carrier is aiming to work towards a “more sustainable and socially responsible air cargo industry.”

KLM Boeing 747-400M Combi Los Angeles LAX
KLM used its Boeing 747-400M Combi aircraft to transport large animals such as elephants and horses. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |

Other animal cargo

This is far from the first instance of animals traveling by air. Indeed, when KLM retired its Boeing 747 fleet last year, it reflected on some of the more exotic cargo that its -400 Combi aircraft have carried. Among these were elephants and horses!

Also last year, a Ural Airlines Airbus A319 transported three orphaned bear cubs to a wildlife center in Khabarovsk, Russia. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, November saw a very special Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Australia.

This helped to reunite 70 stranded pets with their Australian owners after months of separation. The owners had been unable to take them back home with them as COVID-19 shattered worldwide connectivity earlier in the year. All in all, the flight cost around AUS$100,000 (nearly US$77,000) to operate.

What do you make of Qatar Airway’s Cargo’s wildlife relocation project? Have you ever been part of a charitable project involving an airline? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!