People Are Chartering Private Jets to Get Their Pets Out of Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong’s zero-tolerance Covid policy is driving residents to leave the city-state in droves.
  • People are having trouble getting their pets on commercial flights due to flight cancellations.
  • A one-way chartered flight for a pet and accompanying owner can cost around $27,000.

Hong Kong residents are fleeing the city-state in droves, and some of them are paying top dollar to take their pets with them.

In February and March, Hong Kong saw a net outflow of 65,295 and 66,334 residents respectively, per an analysis of official immigration data by the Hong Kong Free Press. It’s a trend real-estate consultancy Savills has referred to as “peak exodus.”

But getting out of Hong Kong has proven difficult for humans and pets alike due to rising cargo rates and increased flight cancellations. In December, between 3,000 and 4,000 cats and dogs were left stranded at Hong Kong’s airport due to flight suspensions, Hong Kong-based animal travel company Pet Holidays told the Financial Times.

When it comes to getting animals onto commercial flights, “no amount of money can buy them a seat,” the company’s pet emigration consultant, Fanny Liang, told the Hong Kong Free Press.

This has pushed desperate pet owners to hire private jets to get their pets out of Hong Kong, but it’s a pricey decision.

“Chartering an entire jet for just one person and a pet will cost $270,000,” Olga Radlynska, the founder of Hong Kong-based Top Stars Air, told Insider. The private aviation business currently operates five to six relocation flights a month. Prior to the pandemic, it flew a maximum of two flights per month, with the bulk of their clientele being business executives, Radlynska said.

Some pet owners have taken to connecting in Facebook groups and pooling their money to share chartered flights out of Hong Kong. Posts on the group are usually pet owners asking for advice or recommendations on routes and relocation services.

“Our flights can accommodate up to 10 humans and their accompanying pets; sharing flights lowers the price down to $27,000 per person,” Radlynska said.

Dog looking out of airplane window while in flight.

Puppy looking out of airplane window while in flight.

Ryan Jello/Getty Images

Char Nicholson, a 30-year-old financier, told Insider she was quoted HK$200,000 ($25,487) to transport her two snub-nosed dogs from Hong Kong to Singapore. However, she would need to fly back to Hong Kong to accompany the dogs on the flight.

“Snub-nosed pets are not accepted by most commercial airlines due to health risks,” said Radlynska. Nicholson is still looking for alternatives to reunite with her pets.

Hong Kong is currently facing its fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 329,498 confirmed cases and 9,282 deaths at the time of reporting. The city-state’s strict pandemic measures are similar to China’s, with mandatory mass testing and children who test positive for the virus being isolated away from parents.

In January, Hong Kong authorities seized and euthanized more than 2,000 hamsters out of the fear that the hamsters could cause a COVID-19 outbreak.

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