AN AIRLINE has been fined £50,000 after illegally flying dogs at risk of rabies into Gatwick Airport.

Royal Air Maroc pleaded guilty to five charges at Brighton Magistrates’ Court following an investigation by West Sussex Trading Standards.

On September 22, 2017, a dog landed in Gatwick on a flight from Casablanca Airport, Morocco.

When the animal arrived, checks showed that no blood test had been given to make sure the rabies vaccination had worked.

The dog had also not received tapeworm treatment before returning to the UK.

On January 3, the airline then transported a dog within the cabin of the aircraft to Gatwick.

When the Animal Reception Centre at the airport reviewed the pet’s travel documentation it showed that the correct checks had once again not taken place.

Peter Aston, Trading Standards team manager, said: “The United Kingdom has been rabies free for a considerable amount of time thanks in part to the

very strict rabies controls in place.

“Not only did this airline import animals illegally from Morocco, a high risk country for rabies, it continued to flout regulations and ignore our warnings.

“I hope this sentence acts as a deterrent to other airlines and demonstrates the importance of complying with regulations.

“You can report concerns about illegally imported animals by contacting Trading Standards on 03454 040506 or online at”

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “Bringing animals at risk of rabies into the country is an incredibly serious offence.

“If you are travelling with pets, I urge you to make sure they are properly vaccinated and have had the all the necessary checks.”

Royal Air Maroc was fined £20,000 in relation to the landing on September 22, 2017.

The airline was also ordered to pay £1,776.99 to West Sussex County Council for bringing the matter before the courts.

The airline was then fined £30,000 regarding the landing on January 3.

It was ordered to pay £491 to the county council and the company has to pay a victim surcharge of £120.

One of the dogs was exported to Morocco, while the other was picked up by its owner after being quarantined.

Public Health England classifies Morocco as high risk for rabies in wild and companion animals.

Blood tests must take place after the rabies vaccination has been given to animals to ensure the required antibodies are present to protect it.