Brussels Airport organises the largest horse transport on a single flight in Europe


This morning, 86 horses left for the Middle East from Brussels Airport. This is the largest export of horses in one aircraft for many years. Thanks to the expertise of Intradco Global, and the creation of appropriate infrastructure at Brussels Airport for this exceptional transport, the horses were relaxed when the flight took off. The mixture of Warmbloods and Arabian horses are travelling in one of the largest cargo aircraft in operation today, a Boeing 747-400F.

A horse transport of this size asks for a lot of flexibility and organisational expertise. Flights that carry 30 to 40 horses, or 50 at most, are not uncommon. A shipment of 86 horses on 1 flight is very exceptional, even a first in Europe. These past years, our cargo department has gained its international reputation primarily for the shipment of smaller packages, and more specifically pharmaceutical products. But we also have considerable experience and expertise in organising complex shipments, such as horse transport“, says Steven Polmans, Head of Cargo at Brussels Airport Company.

Horses are easily subject to stress. That is why it is important when transporting horses that they do not become uneasy from too much light, sharp noises or turmoil. Twenty-eight specially designed stables were erected in a Swissport warehouse; these have the same calming effect on horses as when they travel in a trailer behind a car. The light in the warehouse was also adjusted.

Brussels Airport was able to offer the customised services we needed, such as additional room to load the horses into specialised “Air stables” and special access for our horse grooms and other loading assistants. Together with Swissport we were able to ensure that the aircraft was parked as close to the warehouse as possible in order to make the journey to the aircraft as short as possible“, says Charlie McMullen, director of Intradco Global that is specialised in the transport of livestock.

Yesterday evening, the 86 Warmbloods and Arabian thoroughbreds arrived in the warehouse, checked if they are fit to fly and loaded into the Air Stables by a team of professional flying grooms. The Air stables were then loaded onto the aircraft ready for departure. The whole operation took about 7 hours.

At all times, various experienced horse carers were on hand, not only to provide food and drink, but also to use calming techniques so that the horses could travel without needing calming medication. This took place both when loading the horses and during the flight itself.

March 16, 2016