Airlift 2.0: Qatari Man Makes History Flying 4,000 Cows

Written By:

Published On:

June 24, 2017
Australian Dairy Cows. CREDITS |

Australian Dairy Cows. CREDITS |


If Eid-ul-Fitri falls before my next blog, please receive my Eid Mubarak best wishes upfront.


The shift in global weather patterns as a result of global warming coupled with poor policies and planning by some governments in the world have led to widespread shortages of basic food commodities.

This is arguably true for Kenya and our East African neighbours who are struggling with the high cost of maize meal, popularly known as Unga in local parlance.

Following a diplomatic tiff and ultimate showdown between Qatar and her Gulf neighbours including Saudi Arabia, where most of Doha’s fresh milk and milk products came from; there is a growing acute shortage of milk in the world’s richest country per capita.

Having already mentioned that Qatar is the world’s richest country per capita, it goes without saying that some of its citizens have very deep pockets.

Deep enough to import 4,000 dairy cows to fill the void caused by the collapse of milk supply by Saudi Arabia and her former allies.

Moutaz Al Khayyat is the defiant Qatari Businessman who intends to fly the 4,000 expectant dairy cows from Australia and the USA. “This is the time to work for Qatar,” Al Khayyat, who is also chairman of Power International Holding, said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Al Khayyat had already setup sheds for the cows which he initially planned to ship in September to his expansive farm – equivalent to 70 football stadia in the outskirts of Doha – where he already keeps sheep for milk and meat.

But after his country was ostracized, he decided to expedite the plan by flying in the cows instead of shipping them in.

Transporting livestock by air is no new occurrence and has been happening since 1924 when KLM flew Nico (a bull) from Rotterdam to Paris.

But the sheer scale of Al Khayyat’s plan is unprecedented.

Numbers Tell it All

Here are some statistics to help you contextualize and wrap your head around this logistical phenomenon:

The distance from Canberra, Australia to Doha, Qatar is approximately 12,250 kilometres and would take about 16 hours nonstop;

The distance from Texas, USA to Doha, Qatar is 13,000 kilometres and would take about 17 hours nonstop;

It would take approximately 40 to 60 Qatar flights to ferry the cows each of which weighs about 590 kilograms;

Airlifting the cows will cost the businessman $8 million.

Success of Animal Cargo Transport

Air transport is considered the most humane and safest mode of transporting live animals.

It’s safety however boils down to the ability of controlling three environmental factors that include: cargo compartment carbon dioxide concentration, humidity and temperature.

For optimal health of livestock aboard, the plane’s Environmental Control System must be carefully monitored while remembering that air conditioning performance are affected by the ambient air temperature

While a unique set of Standard Operating Procedures must be developed for Al Khayyat’s unique Airlift, the International Air Travel Authority (IATA) provides the Live Animals Regulations (LAR) that must be adhered to whenever transporting live animals.

The regulations are the global standard and the essential guide to transporting animals by air in a safe, humane and in a cost-effective manner.

Considering all these factors that have to be considered, you’d wonder how much preparations went into ensuring optimum conditions for all the animals, not to mention humans, that went into Noah’s Ark hundreds of years ago!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *