A pet cat carried on board a flight from Iran to Gatwick has ended up costing an airline £35,000 for the trip.
UKraine International Airlines was ordered to pay the sum in fines and costs at Worthing magistrates Court last week for contravening rabies laws.
The court heard that the airline is not authorised to carry animals to the UK, according to a statement from West Sussex County Council.
The case related to a passenger who was allowed to carry her pet on a flight from Iran to Kiev with onward passage to Gatwick in December.
The cat travelled in the aircraft cabin, but its carry box did not meet the International Air Transport Association’s live animal regulations - and did not have relevant paperwork such as a pet passport.
The airline pleaded guilty to two charges under rabies and animal welfare legislation.
The court was told there had been a similar breach a few months previously.
Deborah Kennard, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for safer communities, said after the case: “We are very grateful that the magistrates recognised the seriousness of this case and the final result is a testament to the important work carried out by our Trading Standards team.”
Peter Aston, West Sussex Trading Standard’s team manager, said: “We hope that this case will act as a deterrent to other airlines and indeed all those importing pets into the UK. If you breach the rules that keep the UK safe from animal disease, there will be consequences.
“There is still a strong threat of introduction of rabies into the UK from the illegal importation of an infected animal such as a dog or cat and we are pleased that this was reflected in the level of fine the airline received.”