UK. Aberdeen International Airport has become the first airport in the UK – and possible across Europe too – to introduce a dog therapy team to a major air gateway.
In partnership, with Therapet (a service from Canine Concern Scotland Trust) the airport is deploying a total of up to 14 dogs, called the Canine Crew, across its terminal spaces – including retail and F&B areas – to allay the fears of anxious flyers.
After an initial test with one dog, from last weekend two dogs began visiting the terminal, easily identifiable by their high-vis jackets and bandanas. They will mingle with passengers and staff to work their calming animal magic. Thereafter, Therapet’s dogs and their handlers will visit the airport on a rota basis.
Speaking to The Moodie Davitt Report, Airport Duty Manager, Fraser Bain, said: “Our Canine Crew will be making our passengers feel at ease in all areas of the airport, airside and landside. We’ve been working on a £20 million (US$26 million) terminal transformation that has completely updated our departures lounge and retail offering.
“All our retailers have fully got on board with the Canine Crew project, with staff and passengers alike benefiting from the dogs’ friendly nature. The dogs make passengers smile, and their presence throughout the terminal makes everyone feel good.”
The Canine Crew are expected to be especially helpful in the ‘decompression’ area after security and before the World Duty Free store, when passengers can feel especially stressed.
The Therapet service is regularly used at nursing homes, schools, prisons and universities, where the dogs have been proven to help improve mental health and well-being, alleviate stress and calm nerves.
Trustee of Canine Concern Scotland Trust and area representative for Aberdeenshire North Therapet, Diane Wood, said: “We are delighted to take the lead in this project. All our dogs – and their owners – have undergone rigorous training and assessment to work in a variety of environments.
“The dogs are used to being stroked and petted and generally made a fuss of so they will lap up the attention and thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to interact with passengers and staff. The mere action of stroking a dog slows down the heartbeat and reduces blood pressure so they will be a great help to anyone feeling nervous about their journey.”
Aberdeen International – owned by AGS Airports (a partnership between Ferrovial and Macquarie Infrastructure & Real Assets (MIRA) with investments in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports) – is Scotland’s major air hub in the north-east.
The airport is currently transforming its passenger facilities as part of a three-year project that will deliver a 50% increase in the size of the terminal. Phase 1 was completed in 2017 and included new domestic and international arrival areas and passenger lounges. The second phase opened in June 2018 with new security search area and retail facilities. The final phase – involving the expansion of the airside area and increasing the number of shops and restaurants – is expected to be complete by this autumn.
To get acquainted with the individual Therapet dogs visiting the Aberdeen Airport, watch the video below.