Edgar Montaño, Minister of Public Works, calls a press conference this Monday in the department of La Paz. Broadcast live by the state channel, he affirms the following: “Tito is still alive and could be in the houses next to the airport.” The authority continues and says that it has instructed the fire department, together with the personnel of four state institutions, to carry out a search to find his whereabouts. “We have arranged food and also water in all sectors so that he can be fed, the kitten liked tuna. We are hopeful that the kitten Tito will appear”, concludes Montaño.
Tito is three years old, weighs between six and seven kilos, has a distinctive spot on his face, responds to his name, and is white with gray tones. The disappearance of this pet, owned by Andrea Iturre, is the case that has aroused indignation and discomfort in some sectors of the Bolivian population for a little over a week. Tito’s owner denounced, through a Facebook post on December 10, that during the preparation of a local flight from Tarija to Santa Cruz, departments located in the southeastern region of the country, the state airline Boliviana de Aviación (BoA) he lost his cat.
🔵 #ANF I The Minister of Public Works, Edgar Montaño, reported that the addresses of the ATT, DGAC, BoA and NAABOL joined the search for the Tito cat that was lost by the state airline at the airport of #Tarija. “We are hopeful that Tito will show up,” she said. pic.twitter.com/9CND11Ud8b
— Fides News Agency (@noticiasfides) December 12, 2022
“I requested that they let me take my pet in the cabin and they denied me, alleging that the kennel [caja transportadora para mascotas] that he had was not authorized and that’s how they pressured me to go to the winery,” he explains in the publication that went viral, being shared more than 19,000 times.
In his account, Iturre details that the flight was delayed by more than two hours, for which he begged to be allowed to be with Tito in the cabin because it was too long to wait and he was sedated. BoA officials, according to Iturre, only referred to telling him that the plane would leave in 20 minutes and to be patient. “Upon arriving in Santa Cruz, waiting for the luggage, I almost died when I received my cat’s kennel empty and without any reference to it. After a few minutes, a BoA agent just appeared to tell me that they lost it in Tarija. They did not even deign to tell me before flying and I found out in Santa Cruz, many hours later, ”he continues in the publication.
Iturre denounces that he had to take immediate action on his own. He returned to Tarija in search of information to find the whereabouts of his cat, he spent more than 24 hours trying to find solutions, during which time he did not receive a response or call from the company. The airline limited itself to publishing a statement through its social networks, on December 10, specifying that “in relation to the case of Tito, the pet that came out of its special container, Boliviana de Aviación maintains its search active through a delegation whose task is to find Tito and return him to his family,” according to a fragment of the letter.
“Although it is our flag line BoA, I have still instructed the ATT [Autoridad de Regulación y Fiscalización de Telecomunicaciones y Transportes] have an investigation done. The investigation has to give responsibility,” said the head of the Public Works portfolio at a press conference.
For its part, at the request of the Minister of Public Works, the Telecommunications and Transport Regulation and Oversight Authority (ATT) requested reports from the airline on the circumstances and procedures adopted by BoA to transport the pet. The executive director of the ATT, Néstor Ríos, warned that a fine of more than 10,000 dollars could be imposed on the company, a figure that for users on social networks is “ridiculous”, due to the incalculable loss for the owner.
For a group of the population, BoA’s loss of Tito was the last straw in a series of years of poor care by the airline. BoA was created in 2007 —through a supreme decree—, but it was not until 2009 when it began its operations after receiving the air operator certificate. Since then, the state company, over the years, has gained a monopoly on national routes in the Andean country. According to different specialists, the company’s participation in the national market ranges between 79 and 82%. The ATT announced that in the first half of 2022, BoA made 11,470 flights and registered 1,209 complaints, which range from delays, technical failures, as well as loss and theft of luggage.
The owner returned to Bolivia from Ireland to do the paperwork to take Tito with her since, as she announced, she suffers from anxiety and her cat was always her companion. “I came back to take it with me, it’s all for me. My plan was to go to Santa Cruz where I planned to have him chipped and certified as a therapy cat. I’m going to stay until I find my kitten, I’m going to go to the last instance. I am not moving from here without him or with a clear explanation of what happened to him, ”she said in an interview near the Tarija airport.
Iturre does not lose hope of finding him and continues to search for his partner around the airfield runway, waiting for some information or sign on his whereabouts. Firefighters, ATT personnel, the General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics and Air Navigation and Bolivian Airports have the order to accompany the work to try to solve the loss of this pet. Finding Tito is a state matter.