Tony Bizjak

Back-seat Driver: How about airport kennel as a pet project?

Published: Friday, Jul. 20, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 - 8:24 pm

So, now that they have that nice, airy box at Sacramento International Airport that serves as home to a big red rabbit (sculpture), how about a place for your pooch?

We're talking pet hotel.

Imagine dropping the family dog off at a kennel on airport grounds just before you take off, and having your pet be the first to welcome you home when you return.

"How cool is that?" asks Sacramento airport official Linda Cutler.

There is no plan in the works for an airport pet hotel. But Cutler did mention it this week when talking about ways the airport can mold itself into a more full-service travel, leisure and meeting site.

The airport, which is dealing with a $1 billion debt from its recent expansion, is part of county government, but is financially separate from the county general fund.

It must raise its own revenues on-site, mainly from fees it charges airlines, fliers, concessionaires and parkers.

Airport officials say they have launched a multiyear effort to find ways to be more entrepreneurial, including looking for more money-making uses for airport land.

First up is hotels. Not for dogs, though. For humans.

The airport is in discussions with a private development company about building hotels near Terminals A and B.

One would be upscale, suitable for business meetings and small conferences. The other would be family-friendly and less expensive.

Airport officials want to see those hotels up and running as soon as possible.

They consider that a fundamental amenity for an airport that is marketing itself as a gateway to Northern California, not just Sacramento.

The airport also is talking with airlines about adding Sacramento routes.

That's a tough sell now, though. To pay its debt, Sacramento has increased the fees it charges airlines, making it one of the most expensive airports for airlines, even as carriers are cutting expenses and flights.

The airport pet kennel concept is not new. The Jacksonville, Fla., airport has a pet hotel on-site, and there are others located near major airports, offering pet owners the convenience of not having to make one trip to the kennel, then another to the airport.

Fred Goldsmith, president of Pet Paradise, the company at Jacksonville airport, said his facilities are open 24/7, with in-ground pet swimming pools. They even have fake fire hydrants. Travelers can check on their pet via webcam.

"It's for the consumer whose pet has become part of the family," he said. "It's feel good: My dog is going to have more fun than I am."

But, for the idea to pencil out on airport property, he said, airports need to view the kennels as a customer amenity, not just an opportunity to push for high rents.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Tony Bizjak



Sacramento Bee Job listing powered by Careerbuilder.com
Quick Job Search
Sacramento Bee Jobs »
Buy
Used Cars
Dealer and private-party ads
Make:

Model:

Price Range:
to
Search within:
miles of ZIP

Advanced Search | 1982 & Older