The region's cats and dogs are taking to the sky thanks to a Hawke's Bay airline offering nationwide transportation for our four-legged friends.
Air Napier, a company which offers private, scenic and freight flights, branched out during the Covid-19 lockdown to launch a new animal transport service.
Using their twin-engine planes, the airline flew dogs and cats to their new owners after face-to-face transactions were curbed under the Government's Covid-19 guidelines.
Air Napier chief executive Shah Aslam said after high levels of interest, the scheme has been extended permanently post-lockdown.
"Breeders came to us during lockdown and explained the challenge they were facing of moving puppies to their new homes," he said.
"So we said we could help solve this problem and unite these furry bundles of joy with their new families."
Aslam said the decision to branch out into animal freight was a "win-win" for the company, viewing it as both a business opportunity and a practical way to help.
The initial service routes were aimed primarily at the central North Island and Christchurch, but have since been extended nationwide.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
The service is based out of Napier and Gisborne.
Each flight can take up to 15 pets in individual PP40 cages, which owners have to provide, and pets will be "seated" on a first-come first-served basis.
Aslam said the service aims to be stress-free.
"Our flights aim to minimise the time pets spend in their cages in transit as the flights are direct."
While strictly offering the service to canines and felines, an animal expansion may be on the horizon.
"We had people inquire about transporting different types of birds – even an exotic fish breeder asked if we could move their animals," Aslam said.
"While that may be possible in the future, at this stage we will concentrate on just cats and dogs – in separate cages of course."