Volcano disrupts Latin American cargo

CENTRAL America airfreight is still reeling after first the eruption of Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano and now being hit by tropical storm Agatha.

Guatemala City’s international airport – La Aurora – was closed for five days while ash and sand was removed from the runways and roads, a cleaning operation that was then interrupted by Agatha.

Many flights were diverted to Mexico’s Tapachula airport on the southern border to Guatemala.

Nearby, Ecuador’s Tungurahua volcano is also still active, with several major explosions leading to ash being spread over Guayaquil and halting flights from Quito to Lima (Peru).

The airfreight disruption is affecting perishable shipments to the US. Mango and plantain are particularly badly hit and volumes of baby carrots, baby squash, French beans, leeks, radicchio, snow peas, sugar snap peas and other Guatemalan vegetables imported, are expected to be down by 30 per cent in the near future.

Robert Schueller, spokesperson for Los Angeles-based World Variety Produce, said: “The eruption disrupted the logistics of getting product, and the tropical storm will affect supplies for the next month or so. California product was already limited, and with Guatemala’s problems, it raises the demand for and cost of US product.”

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