Airlines shed light on booming bloom logistics

By Rachelle Harry

This Valentine’s Day, millions of people sent and received flowers to mark the occasion. However, the process of harvesting and shipping the flowers – and the scale of it – is often overlooked. 

Each year, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of flowers are flown around the world  in the weeks before February 14. Popular types include roses, carnations, chrysanthemums, iris, gypsophila and greenery, many of which originate from countries in Africa and Latin America.

LATAM Cargo transported 12,600 tons of flowers in the run up to Valentine’s Day, on 210 Boeing 767-300 freighters flying from Columbia and Ecuador.

The carrier said that this year, it transported 45% more flowers, in terms of volume, compared with the same season last year – from January 14 to February 10.

Key destinations for LATAM’s flower shipments included the US, the Netherlands and China.

LATAM Cargo flower shipments were made possible thanks to its network comprising more than 145 destinations, which link Latin America to the rest of the world.

Felipe Caballero, LATAM Cargo senior revenue manager for South America, explained: “In 2019, we decided to expand our cargo operations in Colombia and Ecuador to offer our customers enhanced frequency and capacity options.

“For the company, these Valentine’s Day figures are proof that our customers understand and value our commitment and effort to provide permanent and stable solutions for their shipments.”

Avianca Cargo meanwhile transported 11,888 tonnes of flowers between January 18 and February 6 – just in time for the big day.

The carrier increased its flower volumes by 4% compared with the same time period last year.

A fleet of 10 aircraft, comprising A330Fs, B767-200s and A300-600s, flew a combined total of 214 flights to deliver the flowers to Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.

In addition, another 699 tonnes of flowers for the season were flown to other destinations including Amsterdam, London, Madrid and Hong Kong.

Kurt Schosinsky, managing director of Avianca Cargo, commented: “This was a very successful season for us, where we met our goals by giving our customers a high level of professionalism and a timely service.

“The busiest day was January 30, in which we received 15 flights at the Miami station.”

Air France KLM Martinair Cargo (AFKLMP Cargo) transported 3,000 tonnes of flowers over a recent two-week period.

AFKLMP Cargo moved the blooms with its Boeing 747-400 freighter and combi-aircraft, as well as in the bellyhold of long-haul passenger flight aircraft.

Destinations for the flowers included among others the Netherlands, UK, Italy, France, Russia and Japan.

To move flowers and plants as seamlessly as possible from grower to wholesaler, Royal FloraHolland, Schiphol Cargo and Air France KLM Martinair Cargo created the Holland Flower Alliance – a group of floricultural logistics professionals dedicated to the pursuit of innovation and sustainability in the floral supply chain.

The Holland Flower Alliance helped AFKLMP Cargo to maximise the vase life of its flower shipments.

American Airlines Cargo explained in a statement that it increased its flower volumes by 15% this season, compared with the same period last year.

From January 29 to February 13, the carrier moved 417 tonnes of flowers from Amsterdam – many of which were purchased by exporters at the Aalsmeer flower auction, which is the largest auction of its kind in the world.

From the Netherlands, American Airlines Cargo flew the blooms directly to Philadelphia International Airport or trucked them to London Heathrow Airport to be flown to destinations including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York, Los Angeles and Miami.

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