On the afternoon of September 2, EK 9497, an Emirates Boeing 777 freighter transporting 40 horses from Haneda Airport landed at Liege Airport.
This was the last of the 16 flights that Emirates SkyCargo operated to transport champion horses between Liege and Tokyo, bringing to a successful close one of the largest horse charter movements in the history of air transport.
Nabil Sultan, Emirates divisional senior vice president, Cargo, said: “Emirates SkyCargo is delighted to have successfully wrapped up the horse charters for the world’s most prestigious sporting event. It was a monumental effort from our team requiring months of planning and coordination with our partners and authorities to make sure that these international equine champions were given the best care and flight experience. We drew upon our extensive experience flying horses for sporting events across the world for the last two decades to operate the 16 flights between Liege and Tokyo.”
Emirates SkyCargo transported 316 horses on eight flights from Liege to Tokyo and 323 horses on an equal number of flights for the return journey over a period of seven weeks with the first flight operated on July 13 and the last operated on September 2.
The 16 flights were operated by three Emirates Boeing 777 freighters in a high density configuration (A6-EFG, A6-EFH and A6-EFK) allowing for between 9 and 11 grooms to fly with and look after the equine guests on each flight. In all, 157 grooms flew on the charter flights between Liege and Tokyo.
A total of 60 Emirates flight deck crew operated the 16 horse charter flights. The air cargo carrier also transported 336 horse stalls, more than 160 tonnes of special equipment and food and drink for the equine champions on its flights.
Emirates SkyCargo worked with Peden Bloodstock and the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) closely over 18 months to finalise the details of the charter flights and to ensure that the horses would travel in a comfortable and stress free environment and be ready to hit the ground running on arrival.
The charter planning team at Emirates SkyCargo ensured the entire operation ran like clockwork, including securing available aircraft, flight deck crew, loadmasters and technical ground support teams. As it was also the first time Emirates SkyCargo operated cargo flights with horses to Haneda Airport, the air cargo carrier co-ordinated extensively with the local authorities to make sure that the unloading and loading of the horses took place smoothly.