Norwegian fined £10k for bringing ‘emotional support’ pets into Gatwick illegally

The airline received a hefty fine
The airline received a hefty fine

An airline has been fined nearly £10,000 for bringing ‘emotional support’ pets into Gatwick Airport illegally.

Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA admitted eight offences, court results show.

If you breach the rules that keep the UK safe from animal disease, there will be consequences

Peter Aston, West Sussex Trading Standard’s team manager

Peter Aston, West Sussex Trading Standard’s team manager, said: “We hope that this case will act as a deterrent to other airlines and indeed all those importing pets into the UK.

“If you breach the rules that keep the UK safe from animal disease, there will be consequences.

“Despite previous warnings by Trading Standards, the airline continued to flout the rules and this was reflected in the level of fine the airline received.”

According to West Sussex County Council, Norwegian transported a dog into the country on a flight from Bergen, Norway, which landed at the airport on 24 September 2017.

The animal should have been transported to Warsaw, but had been mistakenly loaded onto the wrong flight, while the airline is only approved to transport recognised Guide or Assistant Dogs into the UK.

The dog was taken into quarantine shortly after landing to be exported to Oslo, the council said.

The airline had been issued with two written warnings by West Sussex Trading Standards in December 2016 and February 2017 in relation to similar offences concerning a number of illegal landings of dogs at Gatwick.

A second incident took place on September 27, when the airline transported a dog from Los Angeles, which had travelled in the cabin as an ‘emotional support dog’. There was no evidence the animal was classed as a recognised assistance dog, and it did not have an EU pet passport.

A third incident then took place on New Year’s Eve when a dog was transported on a flight from New York without required documentation to show it had received the necessary vaccinations, and it could not be classed as a recognised assistance dog. It was placed into quarantine for exportation.

A fourth incident on January 26, 2018 involved a dog travelling from Oakland, USA, which also had no evidence to classify it was a recognised assistance dog. The animal also had a name missing from a pet passport.

Debbie Kennard, cabinet member for safer, stronger communities said: “I hope this sentence will deter other airlines and organisations from thinking they can disregard important animal health laws which, if not kept, could potentially be dangerous to our local communities.

“It is a credit to our Trading Standards team that they were able to build such a case against the airline for such a period of time, and bring it to the necessary conclusion.”

At Worthing Magistrates Court on June 29, Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA was fined for four counts, one for each incident, under the Non-Commercial Movement of Pet Animals Order 2011, and four counts, one for each incident, under The Rabies (Importation of Dogs, Cats and other Mammals) Order 1974, the council said.

The airline was fined £1,000 for each offence, totalling £8,000, and was ordered to pay £1,734.06 in costs, and a £100 victim surcharge.

A Norwegian spokesperson said: “The cases in this matter were rare isolated incidents concerning emotional support animals and Norwegian does everything possible to meet its obligations in line with UK regulations and the countries we serve.

“We have since revised our procedures accordingly to ensure that we fully comply with all regulations.”