Readers. I have failed you. Six weeks ago, I missed one of the all-time most quirky stories in aviation: New York Kennedy Airport is getting a $48 million pet terminal.
"The ARK at JFK, its name inspired by Noah's biblical vessel, will more than measure up to terminals for humans: Horses and cows will occupy sleek, climate-controlled stalls with showers, and dogs will lounge in hotel suites featuring flat-screen TVs," the Associated Press reported. "A special space for penguins will allow them mating privacy."
The special terminal at JFK will even have a "pet resort" run by a company called "Paradise 4 Paws."
This is a legitimate business enterprise, and the group has a 30-year lease at JFK. Shipping animals is profitable - the ARK predicts it will accommodate more than 70,000 animals each year after it opens in 2016 - and it makes sense to have a modern facility to process them.
"With demand for pets and animals of all kinds transported by air escalating year on year, we recognized the need for a more humane and efficient model for this significant segment of the air travel industry,” Dr. Aaron S. Perl, Managing Director of The ARK, said in a press release.
There are other niche terminals. In Frankfurt, Lufthansa has a cold terminal that helps ensure the airline can keep perishables like fruits, vegetables and pharmaceuticals cold during long layovers. And in Philadelphia, American Airlines has just built a cargo facility designed for pharmaceuticals.
But according to the ARK's founders, this JFK pet terminal is the first of its kind. "The ARK at JFK has been conceived as the world's only privately owned animal terminal and USDA-approved, full-service, 24-hour, airport quarantine facility for import and export of horses, pets, birds and livestock," the ARK says on its website.
I'm a West Coast guy so I am more familiar with LAX than JFK. There's a company near LAX called JetPets, and it can service animals 24 hours a day, seven days per week. According to its website, JetPets is the only permanent airport quarantine facility on the West Coast. But I don't think JetPets is nearly as large of an operation as ARK will be.
From the JetPet's website:
The Import Facility has 48 stalls arranged in 5 sections where we can handle multiple horse shipments at the same time. Our livestock area is set up to handle small to medium shipments (depending on the size and species of the animal). Jet Pets has a loading ramp built specifically to allow the off-loading of horses from their shipping stalls, eliminating the need for unloading the horses in noisy, busy cargo warehouses.
What do you think of JFK's planned pet terminal?