‘Doors off’ NYC chopper flights for dogs spark outrage

‘Doors off’ NYC chopper flights for dogs spark outrage

The helicopter-tour company involved in the East River crash that killed five sightseers has come up with a new gimmick to drum up business – letting passengers bring their dogs along for the ride.

FlyNYON says it’s “teamed up” with a pet-rescue operation called Pilots N Paws to offer cut-rate flights that put pooches in the cabins of choppers that fly around the city with their doors off.

The embattled company – which faces federal probes and wrongful-death litigation over last year’s watery wreck – began offering 40 percent discounts on canine-and-companion rides in July.

It’s since increased the break to 50 percent, meaning a dog and its owner can fly for the cost of just one full-price ticket.

The promotion was slammed Sunday by animal activists alerted by US Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York), a FlyNYON critic who held a news conference to demand an end to the flights.

“This is wretched and reckless idea from takeoff to landing,” said Ashley Byrne, a campaign specialist for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

“The noise alone inside a helicopter would be enough to cause a dog to panic.”

Brian Shapiro, New York state director for the Humane Society of the United States, called the flights “cruel and inhumane.”

During the news conference at the East 34th Street heliport, Schumer accused FlyNYON of engaging in the “greatest act of corporate irresponsibility.”

“The same company where five people died is now strapping dogs to a helicopter,” he fumed.

“What will they stoop to next?”

On July 29, FlyNYON posted a photo on its Facebook page showing a dog in a blue harness sitting in front of a parked helicopter and behind a sign promoting discounted flights as part of a fund-raising effort.

“We’ve teamed up with our friends over at Pilots N Paws to help pups find new homes!” the sign says.

“We’re offering 40% off all our flights with a portion of the proceeds going towards their organization!”

Schumer said his office booked flights on Sunday for a woman introduced only as “Michelle” and her pet Maltipoo, Winston, to show how easily it could be done.

With an even steeper, 50 percent discount, the total cost was $334.10, he said.

In a prepared statement, FlyNYON said it was “fully compliant with all [Federal Aviation Administration] operating and safety standards.”

“The facts are simple. Today, we are focused on raising money to help these animals and their human partners that are on the front line of supporting recovery efforts like those of Hurricane Dorian, not trying to score political points,” the statement added.

An email seeking comment from Pilots N Paws wasn’t immediately returned.

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